Although the cholera infection rate has slowed in Zimbabwe, the number of cases is expected to reach 100,000 this week, said the Red Cross. (photo, from bbc.co.uk)
The aid group warned that the underlying causes of Africa’s worst cholera epidemic in 15 years have not been fixed. The group said that Zimbabwe’s poor water, sanitation and health systems have fuelled the infection since its outbreak in August.
In a report, the Red Cross said that 98,309 cases have been reported so far, with some 4,283 deaths.
Infection rates of the easily-treatable water-borne disease had fallen by a quarter from a peak in February of 6% of the population to 4.5%, said the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRCS).
Further cholera outbreaks are inevitable, says the report, unless factors like food insecurity, and the dilapidated sanitation and health infrastructure were addressed.
In February, the country formed a coalition government, between president Robert Mugabe and prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai. They have pledged to make a priority of restoring eviscerated public services across the spectrum.
After receiving only a small part of the donations it required, the IFRCS said it had been forced to scale back emergency aid measures.
The aid group said that in order to rehabilitate the country’s water systems, dig wells and construct latrines, some $3,4m was needed.
“The government estimates the necessary rehabilitation of water and sanitation infrastructure will take years”, said Stephen Omollo, the IFRC’s representative in Zimbabwe.
Since December 2008, when its cholera relief mission to Zimbabwe was launched, the Red Cross said it had already provided nearly half a million people with access to clean water.