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Zimbabwe in huge cholera vaccination drive after 49 deaths

Zimbabwe has embarked on a massive vaccination drive as it battles a cholera outbreak that has killed at least 49 people.

Health Minister Obadiah Moyo says the vaccination campaign, with help from the World Health Organization, is targeting more than 500,000 people between Wednesday and Sunday. Moyo says close to 1 million more people will be vaccinated starting next week.

The government says the outbreak has sickened more than 9,000 people mostly in the capital, Harare, since September.

Many fear a repeat of 2008 when cholera killed more than 4,000 people at the height of the southern African country’s economic and political problems.

Water and sewer infrastructure has collapsed, with raw sewage flowing freely in some Harare streets.

Recently elected President Emmerson Mnangagwa has vowed to fight the “medieval” disease.

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Associated Press

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Masiyiwa red flag over theft plot on anti-cholera donation

The government has condemned the reported actions of some suppliers and council officials who inflated prices of various goods and services following Econet’s announcement of a $10m fund towards the fight against cholera.

Econet owner, Strive Masiiwa took to his Facebook page to express displeasure over the ‘sad’ actions and promised to name and shame those trying to profiteer from the cholera misfortune.

The Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, July Moyo confirmed receiving reports of council employees who are inflating prices and said corrective measures will be taken.

“Reports came to my office that the municipal officials are inflating figures but [Health and Child Care Minister] Dr Obediah Moyo can respond to that one. Before he responds, what I can I assure the nation is that corrective measures will be taken to that effect,” he said.

Moyo explained that the donation from Strive Masiyiwa is being handled by an Econet subsidiary, Higher Life Foundation which is procuring medical requirements and supplying the government.

According to Masiyiwa, the price of items such as gloves which normally cost about $3, were now being charged at $65.

Meanwhile, Harare Acting Town Clerk, Engineer Hosiah Chisango this morning suspended some officials suspected of inflating prices for goods and services to be used in the fight against cholera.

A statement on the Harare City Council’s Twitter account says Engineer Chisango has since informed Harare Mayor, Councillor Herbert Gomba and relevant stakeholders about the suspension.

ZBC

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Cholera update: 30 dead so far, 21 percent are children, says Minister

By Staff Reporter

GOVERNMENT says the current cholera outbreak has killed atleast 30 people with 21 percent of the fatalities being children of 5 and below.

This was announced by Local Government Minister July Moyo during a Monday event in Harare to formally appeal for anti-cholera assistance among local and international aid agencies.

“As of yesterday (Sunday), we had confirmed 30 deaths here in Harare and as I said there are other casualties that have taken place throughout Zimbabwe.

“Those outside Harare have been people who have been to Budiriro and Glen View (suburbs) and we are able to say it’s the same causal effect,” said Minister Moyo, adding that the number of suspected cases of cholera was now at 5 463 countrywide.

With the seriousness of the scourge, Minister Moyo said, government projected up to 10 000 people are likely to be infected.

The Minister said there were more cases reported in Manicaland, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central, Midlands and Masvingo although it remained intense in Harare which has accounted for nearly all the fatalities.

The Minister described the loss of lives as “worrisome and unacceptable”.

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Zimbabwe cholera outbreak: Anger at crowdfunding scheme

Zimbabwe has launched a crowdfunding campaign to deal with an outbreak of cholera that has so far killed 25 people, mostly in the capital, Harare.

New Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube sent an appeal on Twitter, sharing a mobile payment account number.

An emergency has been declared and public gatherings banned in Harare to prevent the spread of infection.

Some Zimbabweans have criticised the fundraising plan on Twitter, accusing the state of misusing public money.

In 2008, a cholera outbreak killed some 4,000 people and at least 100,000 people fell ill.

This was a key factor in persuading President Robert Mugabe to agree a power-sharing government with the opposition, as the government did not have the money to deal with the outbreak.

The current outbreak began on 6 September after water wells were contaminated with sewage in Harare.

Tests found the presence of cholera and typhoid-causing bacteria which has so far infected over 3,000 people, Health Minister Obadiah Moyo told reporters on Thursday.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), patients were not responding to first-line antibiotics.

“Relevant medicines should be purchased as a matter of urgency as soon as resistance patterns have been ascertained,” it said.

WHO also said the disease has spread to five of the country’s 10 provinces.

‘Inauguration’ postponed

Chamisa has refused to back down from his claim that he won the 30 July election, even after the Constitutional Court dismissed his legal challenge against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s victory.

The police had earlier withdrawn their permission for it go ahead, citing the ban on public gatherings imposed because of the cholera outbreak.

His party now says the swearing in will be held at a “later date”.

Guaranteed healthcare pledge

The cholera outbreak can be traced to Harare city council’s struggle to supply water to some suburbs for more than a decade, forcing residents to rely on water from open wells and community boreholes, according to Reuters news agency.

Health officials are advising people to wash their hands regularly, drink only safe water, wash food, cook it thoroughly and avoid shaking hands.

The government-controlled Herald reports that the crowdfunding campaign has already received some backers.

They include telecommunication giant Econet Wireless, which has contributed $10m (£7m) and the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society $250,000 (£190,000).

However, Ncube’s plan has been condemned on social media:

The health emergency has forced the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to postpone this weekend’s mock inauguration of its leader, Nelson Chamisa, as president.

While Twitter user Bruce Zvandasara said it was more worthwhile than the opposition’s call for funds to pay for their legal challenge to Mnangagwa’s July election victory:

This Twitter user wondered why the government had the money to charter a private plane to bring back former first lady Grace Mugabe from Singapore when her mother died, but does not have funds to deal with a public health emergency.

BBC

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Zimbabwe’s government criticised over cholera outbreak

Zimbabwe’s new government is battling criticism over a cholera outbreak that has killed at least 25 people.

A crowdfunding initiative by the finance minister amid reports of government spending on new vehicles for Cabinet members has only swelled public anger.

Some local non-governmental organizations on Friday blamed the government for the deaths in an outbreak that is spreading beyond the capital and raising fears of a repeat of the 2008 epidemic that killed over 4,000 people.

“It is alarming and quite unusual for such a medieval and preventable disease to continue to claim such valuable lives in this day and age,” said the Civil Society Health Emergency Response Coordinating Committee in a statement. It warned that government failure to “guarantee the right to health is a serious violation of both local and international law.”

The government, which this week declared an emergency, has said it is committed to ending the outbreak. Health Minister Obadiah Moyo, while visiting a suburb identified as the epicenter of the outbreak on Friday, said it is not time “for a blame game.”

United Nations agencies such as the World Health Organization say they have intervened to assist the southern African country whose economy collapsed under former leader Robert Mugabe, who resigned in November under military pressure.

Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube used Twitter to announce a crowdfunding initiative to help fight the outbreak, infuriating some Zimbabweans long frustrated by the country’s currency crisis and high unemployment rate.

AP

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Zim cholera deaths surge to 24

Informal housing areas without running water have mushroomed, and basic infrastructure has collapsed due to years of neglect.

The death toll from a cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe has risen to 24, with first-line antibiotics struggling to treat the disease, which has spread from the capital, a World Health Organisation report said Thursday.

“A cumulative of 24 deaths were reported from the onset of outbreak,” the report said, with 23 deaths in Harare and one death in the southeast district of Masvingo.

“There is resistance to the first-line medicine,” it added, with tests suggesting antibiotic drugs ciprofloxacin and ceftriaxone could be ineffective and the alternative drug azithromycin was not available.

“Relevant medicines should be purchased as a matter of urgency as soon as resistance patterns have been ascertained,” the situation report from WHO and the health ministry recommended.

The cholera outbreak, first detected in the township of Glen View outside Harare on September 5, has prompted the health ministry to declare an emergency in the capital.

With 1,901 suspected cases so far, the disease has spread to other towns as well as rural areas across the country.

Authorities have banned public gatherings Harare while health ministry personnel are supervising burials of victims.

The ban could affect a rally by the main opposition on Saturday where the party planned a mock inauguration for its leader Nelson Chamisa whom supporters say was robbed of victory in elections on July 30.

The WHO report said health personnel faced shortages of medicine and intravenous fluid, sewer blockages, lack of protective clothing and erratic water supplies.

Cholera outbreaks have occurred regularly in Zimbabwe’s cities where supplies of potable water and sanitation facilities are scarce.

Informal housing areas without running water have mushroomed, and basic infrastructure has collapsed due to years of neglect.

Tests from some wells and boreholes showed water was contaminated with cholera and typhoid-causing bacteria.

Zimbabwe, which was ruled by Robert Mugabe from independence in 1980 until his ousting last year, suffered its worst cholera outbreak in 2008.

A total of 4,000 people died and at least 100,000 people fell ill.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who succeeded Mugabe, has pledged to tackle the current outbreak.

UNICEF advised Zimbabweans to prevent cholera spreading by regular hand-washing, drinking only safe water, washing food, cooking it thoroughly and avoiding shaking hands.

The Citizen

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Police ban public gatherings in Harare to contain cholera outbreak

Zimbabwe’s police on Wednesday issued a ban on all public gatherings to control the spread of cholera, which has killed 21 people in the capital Harare, a day after the government declared an emergency following the outbreak of the disease.

In a statement, the national police spokeswoman Charity Charamba urged members of the public to take heed of the ban as it would assist in alleviating the spread of cholera, but did not say how long the ban would last.

The main opposition leader Nelson Chamisa had planned to hold a rally on Saturday where he may take a mock presidential oath, three weeks after President Emmerson Mnangagwa was inaugurated following a court decision upholding his disputed election victory.

Chamisa’s spokesman Nkululeko Sibanda could not comment immediately.

The opposition leader visited clinics where cholera patients were being treated earlier on Wednesday and called for collaboration between city health officials and the government.

The Minister of Health Obadiah Moyo told a meeting of government departments dealing with the outbreak that more than 3,000 people had been infected by cholera and the disease had now spread outside the capital.

This is the biggest cholera outbreak since 2008 when 4,000 people died and more than 40,000 were treated for this disease, according to ministry of health data.

Ruters

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Cholera outbreak in Harare escalates; 21 dead

Zimbabwe’s police say they are banning “public gatherings” in Harare in an effort to curb a cholera outbreak that has killed 21 people.

Police spokeswoman Charity Charamba said in a statement Wednesday that the ban aims to alleviate “the continuous spread” of cholera in the capital, where the government has declared an emergency.

Zimbabwean law broadly defines a public gathering as “a public meeting or a public demonstration.”

Health Minister Obadiah Moyo said Wednesday that the number of infections has risen to 3,067, up from just over 2,000 that were reported Tuesday.

Recent deaths include a school headmaster and two schoolchildren in a poor suburb that has been identified as one of the epicenters of the outbreak. Moyo said a school in the suburb has been closed.

Associated Press

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Zimbabwe declares cholera emergency after death toll rises to 20

Zimbabwe declared a cholera outbreak in the capital Harare after 20 people died from the disease and more than 2,000 were infected by drinking contaminated water, new Health Minister Obadiah Moyo (pictured) said on Tuesday.

Harare city council has struggled to supply water to some suburbs for more than a decade, forcing residents to rely on water from open wells and community boreholes.

Zimbabwe suffered its biggest cholera outbreak in 2008 at the height of an economic crisis when more than 4,000 people died and another 40,000 were treated after being infected.

“We are declaring an emergency for Harare. This will enable us to contain cholera, typhoid and whatever is going on. We don’t want any further deaths,” Moyo said after touring a hospital treating patients in the capital.

The health minister said the selling of meat and fish by vendors in the affected suburbs had been banned and the police had been asked to enforce the ban.

Moyo said the government had suspended classes at some schools in the suburbs at the epicentre of the outbreak after two students died. Harare has also asked for help from United Nations agencies and private companies to supply portable water.

World Health Organisation (WHO) spokesman Christian Lindmeier said the agency was working closely with Harare authorities to control the outbreak and discussing a possible vaccination programme.

“Partners are already there and are establishing a cholera treatment centre. WHO is preparing material for patients care as well and is mobilizing cholera experts,” Lindmeier said.

Reuters

 

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Harare cholera deaths rises to 18: City official

At least 18 people have died over the past week in the Zimbabwe capital Harare and scores fallen ill after a cholera and typhoid outbreak in some areas, authorities said Monday.

Such outbreaks are common as local authorities are battling to provide potable water and sanitation facilities in the city, where slums without running water have mushroomed and whose infrastructure is falling apart due to years of neglect.

Some suburbs go for weeks without running water forcing residents to fetch water from unsafe sources.
“As of this morning we had 18 deaths,” Clemence Duri, Harare city’s acting director for health services told AFP.

He said at least 400 people from the southwestern townships of Mbare, Budiriro and Glen View had been admitted at health facilities after being found to be suffering from one of the two diseases.

Tests on water samples from some wells and boreholes showed the water was contaminated with cholera and typhoid-causing bacteria.

“We have since decommissioned the boreholes and closed the wells,” he said.

Zimbabwe, ruled by Robert Mugabe since independence until his ouster last year, suffered its worst cholera outbreak in 2008. A total of 4,000 people died and at least 100,000 people fell ill.

Emmerson Mnangagwa, who succeeded Mugabe, has pledged to turn Zimbabwe into a middle-income economy by 2030.

AFP

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