'Cholera Epidemic Has Successfully Been Contained And Has Ended,' Says Zimbabwe's Health Minister

A cholera epidemic had ended, after at least 4,200 people died and 100,000 were infected since last August, but warned new outbreaks remain a threat, said Zimbabwe's health minister.
"The nation experienced the worst cholera outbreak between August and June 2009, but the epidemic has successfully been contained and has ended," Health Minister Henry Madzorera said in the official Herald newspaper.

"As the pandemic comes to an end, all districts, provinces and cities will... plan forward for future outbreaks, which have a strong likelihood of recurring in view of continued sewerage and water problems," he added.

The outbreak erupted in August as post-election violence was sweeping the country, while public services including hospitals and clinics shut down.

The diarrhoeal disease thrives in places without proper sanitary facilities. Cholera is deadly but easily preventable with clean water and proper sanitation.

The outbreak began in Chitungwiza, a dormitory town outside the Zimbabwean capital whose sewer system has been overburdened by a booming population and experiences perennial water shortages.

Cholera spread to 55 of the country's 62 provinces.

Since Zimbabwe's unity government formed in February, hospitals have re-opened as doctors and nurses resumed work, though conditions remain grim.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said the cholera epidemic was the worst to hit Africa in 15 years and warned the disease had now entrenched itself as an endemic illness in Zimbabwe.

"Our concern is that the fundamental issues access to sanitation and access to clean water haven't been meaningfully addressed," said IFRC spokesman Matthew Cochrane.

"Cholera is now endemic in Zimbabwe, like it is in most countries in this region."

"Effort has to now be made that communities have access to basic amenities like clean water and sanitation."


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