Cholera

14 January 2009

Cholera spreading in SA

Fifty-two new cases of cholera were reported in Limpopo by Tuesday afternoon as news broke that over 2 000 people have died of the curable disease in neighbouring Zimbabwe.

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Fifty-two new cases of cholera were reported in Limpopo by Tuesday afternoon as news broke that over 2 000 people have died of the curable disease in neighbouring Zimbabwe.

This added to the 48 new cases reported on Monday.

Limpopo's health department spokesman Phuti Seloba implored people to adhere to basic health and hygiene practices to bring the outbreak under control. The province's own toll of confirmed cases so far was nudging the 2 000 mark, with 1 854 people infected by the bacteria which causes cholera.

Nine people had died so far in Limpopo where an NGO and government programme were trying to cope with the overflow from Zimbabwe.

Most of the people infected in South Africa were of Zimbabwean origin, either living in the country or travelling here for treatment.

UN should manage Zim health system
Earlier, US-based health rights activists Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) said Zimbabwe's health care system had collapsed completely due to the economic collapse. The entire system needed to be put into international receivership, preferably into the hands of the UN.

This meant a UN-appointed health agency would take control of all health and sanitation services in Zimbabwe until it was functioning again.

An urgent conference of donors should be held to secure resources for this and, if the Zimbabwe government wouldn't yield control, the UN Security Council should step in, compelling it to do so through a resolution.

They warned that the outbreak, which had led to the deaths of 2 024 Zimbabweans, according to a report on Reliefweb, could have health ramifications for a region already straining to provide adequate health care.

38 000+ cases since August
The World Health Organisation said that by January 11, there were 38 334 cases reported since August. In Beit Bridge, on the Zimbabwe side of the border with South Africa, 4 254 cases were reported and 134 people had died.

"This is the largest ever recorded outbreak of cholera in Zimbabwe," read the WHO report.

News agencies reported that 28 people had died in Zambia. These were attributed to travel between the two countries. Zambia too was providing medical care for cholera at its border health facilities.

According to PHR: "The epidemics of HIV/Aids, cholera and TB (Tuberculosis) currently raging in Zimbabwe pose threats to international peace and security in the region and beyond," the report read.

33 cases in Gauteng
By Tuesday, 33 cases had been confirmed in Gauteng, up from the 30 on Monday with three deaths reported there. Figures for other provinces were not immediately available, but on Monday it was reported that the Western Cape had seven confirmed cases, with no deaths. KwaZulu-Natal had two confirmed cases and the North West recorded two cases in the first week of January. – (Sapa)

 

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