Johannesburg — In some countries in Southern Africa, including Zambia and Zimbabwe, cholera cases are on the rise. In 2023, cholera outbreaks occurred in several Southern African countries, with Malawi experiencing one of the deadliest outbreaks in 10 years. Over 56,000 cases were reported with over 1,700 deaths.
Since the cholera outbreak was declared in Zambia on October 13, 2023, over 10,000 cases have been reported, and over 800 deaths recorded. Since then, the outbreak has spread to nine of the country’s ten provinces. As the problem persists in Zambia and Zimbabwe and continues to burden communities and health facilities, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) will hold a virtual extraordinary summit of heads of state and government on February 2, 2024 to address the cholera situation in the SADC region.
SADC Chairperson, Angolan President João Lourenço will chair the meeting, which will receive and review the report on cholera, the state of preparedness, and responses to the outbreaks.
Responses From Govts, WHO
To stop the spread of cholera, the Zambian government has opened a 600-bed unit at Heroes Stadium to treat patients, while the World Health Organisation (WHO) is currently conducting a vaccination campaign to reach 1.5 million people. The cholera vaccine -1.4 million doses – has already been delivered to the country, while 23 experts have been sent to support the vaccination efforts.
In Zimbabwe, the health ministry has launched an oral cholera vaccination (OCV) campaign aimed at people from the age of one. According to Health Minister Douglas Mombeshora, the campaign is in collaboration with UNICEF and WHO and is aimed at 2.3 million people. To date, 800 doses have been administered.