Zimbabwean cholera deaths now over 3,000
This means that over 1,000 people have died in the past two weeks alone, according to the World Health Organization.
Cholera is spread by water and food which are contaminated with infected feces.
The epidemic of the water-borne disease has been fuelled by the collapse of Zimbabwe's water, sanitation and health systems.
Aid workers say the focus of the cholera outbreak has now moved to rural parts of the country.
The BBC cites a new epidemic report released by the WHO today, Wednesday, 28 January 2009.
According to the WHO:
The WHO said on Wednesday a total of 3,028 people have died from the cholera outbreak and 57,702 have been affected since August 2008.
The outbreak is spreading amidst continued disagreements between current President Mugabe, and Movement for Democra tic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai. The two have agreed to power-sharing in government, but disputes have led to a stalemate that shows no signs of being relieved any time soon. In the meantime, the country is in a state of economic collapse, and the currency is severely devalued. According to currency trading website, XE.com, the current exchange rate is 36,844,444 Zimbabwean dollars to one US dollar. Unemployment is at 80 percent.
Health care is in crisis. The WHO's 2008 Statistics Report, puts the average life expectancy, at birth, at 44 years of age. The healthy life expectancy at birth is only 33 years. WHO reports that," shortages of medicines, equipment and staff at health facilities throughout the country are compounding the health challenges." This makes it difficult to put together a coordinated effort to contain the outbreak, which is critical with a disease that can be spread so easily.
According to international aid organization, Doctors Without Borders (MSF):
With the exception of the surge of cases in Kadoma, the cholera epidemic recently has been spreading mainly in rural areas of Zimbabwe. The numbers of new cases have been decreasing in Harare, although the numbers remain significant.
The spread of the disease in rural areas is a serious concern because some of these places previously had very low or no cases of cholera. As is often seen in rural outbreaks, deaths occur before an intervention can start, and MSF is concerned that the peak has not yet been reached in many of these areas.
In the suburbs, the lack of sanitation services continues to be a problem and could result in higher case numbers again.
MSF also states that neighboring countries are also seeing new cases of cholera, but that this is related to the normal season, and likely not to the outbreak in Zimbabwe.
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