Health Minister Barbara Hogan on Sunday said that the increase in cholera cases was concerning but she was confident the health department could fight the disease.
"While any death from cholera is one death too many, the low case fatality rate across the country reflects the quality of care that is provided in most of our public health facilities," she said. From November 15, to January 24, 5 696 patients were diagnosed and treated for cholera. Of this number, 36 people – a case fatality rate of 0.63% - died as a result of the disease.
According to the health minister the majority of cholera patients were diagnosed and treated in Limpopo (2 917), Mpumalanga (2 550) and Gauteng (210). "The remaining provinces have reported single-figure incidences of the disease."
Every effort made to contain outbreak
"The spread of the infection from the north-east of the country has probably been caused by the migration of cholera carriers from affected areas,” said Hogan.
She said the health department was making every effort to contain and stop the outbreak of the disease but the key task was to work with the relevant water authorities to ensure improved access to clean water, in some parts of our country, and in Zimbabwe.
National action plan
The health department has since established a national cholera co-ordinating committee, with participation from relevant UN agencies, international and local NGO's and relevant government departments.
"This committee has developed and implemented a national plan of action for the control of cholera. The health department has also sent trained cholera outbreak response teams to the worst affected districts in Limpopo and Mpumalanga."
Hogan said the department was collaborating with other relevant departments to monitor water quality – to ensure safe water supplies and sanitation.
"We have approached the private health sector in a bid to generate additional resources, including medical volunteers to help treat cholera victims."
"We have also enlisted the help of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases to review guidelines to ensure that it deals better with the current, and indeed any future cholera outbreak,” said Hogan. – (Sapa)
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