By Marcus Mushonga
Harare — Humanitarian groups are scaling up their response to a rapidly spreading cholera outbreak that has claimed at least 25 people in Zimbabwe.
The water borne disease is currently ravaging the capital Harare but there are fears it could extend to other cities suffering sanitation problems.
Budiriro and Glenview are the epicentre of the about 3 000 cases reported.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is supporting government strengthen the coordination of the response and mobilising health experts to form a cholera surge team.
WHO experts are helping to track down cases, provide technical support to laboratories and improve diagnostics as well strengthening infection and prevention control.
“When cholera strikes a major metropolis such as Harare, we need to work fast to stop the spread of the disease before it gets out of control,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, Africa WHO Director.
More than 1 000 Red Cross volunteers are fanning through the suburbs of Harare in a bid to contain the deadly outbreak.
Maxwell Phiri, Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Red Cross, said the situation was complex as the city was still suffering an outbreak of typhoid.
“This is a double punch for them,” he said.
“There is also a lot of movement of people between Harare and rural areas, thus we are worried this could drive a very rapid spread of the disease,” Phiri added.
The United Nations Children’s Fund disclosed 12 percent of suspected and confirmed cholera cases were children aged under five.
CARE Zimbabwe said it was on alert and preparing to respond if needed.
The European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations said with an estimated six weeks before the rainy season, the situation needs to be contained.
Some 4 000 people were killed in 2008 in the worst cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe.