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Authorities In Zimbabwe Face Drug-Resistant Cholera Bacteria

Critics blame the government for failing to address issues of poor water supply, blocked sewers, and irregular trash collection, factors which are said to be making a cholera outbreak worse.

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Cholera, Zimbabwe
Cholera patients are seen isolated at Budiriro clinic. VOA
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The United Nations says it is hopeful Zimbabwe will soon contain an outbreak of cholera that has killed more than two dozen people. Efforts are complicated as authorities are fighting a drug-resistant bacterium said to be fueling the spread of the waterborne disease.

Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health Friday said the number of cholera-related deaths has climbed to 28, and more than 3,700 cases have been reported across Zimbabwe, with the country’s capital, Harare, remaining the epicenter of the problem.

Cholera, Zimbabwe
Amina Mohammed, the deputy chief of the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF), says her organisation is importing more drugs to combat cholera and is optimistic the situation is improving and stabilizing, in Harare, Zimbabwe. VOA

Amina Mohammed, the deputy chief of the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said patients are not responding to the drugs typically used to combat the disease. She said doctors are now using second and third-line drugs, which she said UNICEF is importing.

She said the outbreak can be contained if people follow basic hygiene practices at home.

Cholera, Zimbabwe
A medical staff member (left) administers oral rehydrating solution to a cholera patient to replace fluids he lost through diarrhea, in Harare, Zimbabwe. VOA

 

“This is an outbreak, at the beginning it is not easy to bring everyone together. But I think we have all rallied behind and are improving. I think we are stabilizing. I am happy about that. It could be better but we are happy that there is coordination by the ministry of health, together with the WHO, ourselves, MSF is doing a great job managing these cases,” said Mohammed referring to the World Health Organization and Doctors Without Borders, the latter known for its French acronym MSF.

UNICEF, the WHO and MSF are some of the organizations that took action after Zimbabwe’s health minister declared a state of emergency Monday.

 

Cholera, Zimbabwe
A woman is seen washing clothes in the Mukuvisi River in Harare, Zimbabwe, Sept. 11, 2018, as water shortages persist, what experts say is fueling the spread of cholera. VOA

 

On Thursday, the University of Zimbabwe postponed a graduation ceremony that President Emmerson Mnangagwa was supposed to attend, after police banned all public gatherings in light of the cholera outbreak.

But Jacob Mafume, spokesman of the main opposition party MDC, said the ban was only meant to stop its planned “inauguration” of party leader Nelson Chamisa Saturday as the “people’s president.”

 

Cholera, Zimbabwe
Raw sewage is seen flowing in the streets in Harare, Zimbabwe Sept. 11, 2018, with experts saying such conditions create an ideal environment for waterborne diseases such as salmonella, typhoid and cholera to thrive. VOA

 

“The government is using its failure to provide water, it is taking advantage of its failures to restrict the freedoms of the people. They are running scared of our president Nelson Chamisa since his victory, to quickly take over from ZANU-PF inefficiency so that people can be healed from medieval diseases,” said Mafume.

Mnangagwa’s government has refused to comment on what it called “cheap politics” by the opposition, which has refused to accept results from the July 30 elections.

Cholera, Zimbabwe
Authorities go for weeks without collecting trash resulting in Harare residents dumping it anywhere they can, creating conditions for cholera organisms to thrive, say health experts, in Harare, Zimbabwe. VOA

It said it is concentrating on containing the cholera outbreak which has since spread from Harare to other parts of the country.

Also Read: Video- Zimbabwe’s Newly Appointed President Calls For Unity

Critics blame the government for failing to address issues of poor water supply, blocked sewers, and irregular trash collection, factors which are said to be making a cholera outbreak worse. (VOA)

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Road Traffic Accidents Cause 1.35 Mn Deaths Each Year: WHO

WHO noted that 48 middle- and high-income countries that have implemented strong road traffic laws and other safety measures have made progress in reducing road deaths.

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Traffic Crashes, Road Traffic
Two bikes were involved in an accident with a bus that crashed and turned on its roof near the town of Franschhoek, South Africa, March 7, 2015. VOA

The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for urgent action to put a brake on road traffic crashes that kill 1.35 million people every year, mostly in poor developing countries.

In Geneva, the U.N. agency launched its global status report on road safety 2018.

The report found road traffic injuries to be the leading killer of children and young people aged five to 29 years, with a death occurring every 24 seconds. The report said more than half of those killed are pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcycle riders and passengers.

Etienne Krug, head of the U.N. Agency’s Department on Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention, called these deaths a huge inequality issue.

Traffic Signals, Road Traffic
Traffic and congestion on roads is frequent in all cities of India. Wikimedia

“Low-income countries have one percent of the vehicles in the world and 13 percent of all the deaths; while high-income countries have 40 percent of all the vehicles,” Krug said. “So, that is 40 times more, but only seven percent of the deaths.That is half of the deaths with 40 times more vehicles.”

The report said death rates are highest in Africa and lowest in Europe. Some of the key risk factors include speeding, drinking and driving, and failure to use seat belts, motorcycle helmets and child restraints.

Krug said putting the right measures in place will save lives. These include the right legislation and enforcement, creating special lanes for cyclists and improving the quality of vehicles.

Road accidents in India
Road accidents in India. Pixabay

“It is not acceptable that vehicles are being sold in developing countries that look the same as the vehicles that we see here in Switzerland or the U.S. or anywhere else, but that are not,” Krug told VOA. “Because to make them cheaper, they have been stripped of all of their safety features, such as air bags or electronic stability control, etc.”

WHO noted that 48 middle- and high-income countries that have implemented strong road traffic laws and other safety measures have made progress in reducing road deaths.

Also Read: HIV Epidemic Spreading Rapidly in Pakistan: WHO

However, it said no such progress has been made in low-income countries where safety measures are lacking. (VOA)