Zimbabwe: A Year On, Cholera Kills 454 in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe has recorded a total of 454 suspected and 71 confirmed deaths since the outbreak in February last year.

On Monday, Zimbabwe marked exactly 12 months since the cholera outbreak was first recorded.

Giving an update at a press briefing held in Harare on Monday Health Ministry Deputy Cholera Incident Manager, Stephen Karim said the fatality rate was declining.

“Unfortunately we had deaths along the way, so far we have had 71 confirmed culture-positive deaths as well as 454 suspected cholera deaths.

“On a positive note, our fatality rate has gone down from 2.2% to 1.9% which reflects an improvement in case management,” he said.

The country has breached a 20 000 mark in terms of all suspected cases after recording a cumulative figure of 23 935.

Karim said of those, 23 147 have recovered and currently, patients who have been admitted are 233.

In terms of geographical distribution of the disease, Harare has contributed 8 04 cases while Manicaland has 5 981 and Masvingo 2665.

Bulawayo has the least cases, having recorded 29 infections since February last year.

To this end, the Health Ministry in conjunction with its partners including Unicef and the World Health Organisation has started the door-to-door Oral Cholera Vaccination (OVC) targeting hotspot areas.

Due to limited doses worldwide, people are currently being given a single dose while the country awaits delivery of more consignments.

“In terms of supply of the OVC, there is a shortage, it is not a vaccine that is plentiful so there is rationalisation happening, you might be aware that most countries in SADC are hit by cholera so demand is high, supply is not matching demand. So we are doing one dose because of inadequate supplies on the global market.

“One of the contributing factors is the nature in which the vaccines are coming, they are coming in batches,” said Karim.

When one gets a shot of OVC they will be protected for six months.

In an ideal environment according to Karim, one is supposed to get two shots, two to six weeks apart.

“If you get a full complement of two shots, protection goes up to three years so this gives us space to organise other drivers of cholera,” he said.


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