Zimbabwe's cholera cases expected to reach 115,000

Fast filling graves in a cemetery in Bulawayo

A revised estimate of 115,000 cholera cases in Zimbabwe is the new "working figure", according to a UN Children's Fund report released on 4 February.

Zimbabwe's cholera outbreak began in August 2008 and the World Health Organization's (WHO) prediction of a "worst case scenario" in December 2008 of 60,000 cases was passed a few days ago. Up until 5 February 2009, 3,371 people had died from the waterborne disease and 67,945 cases had been reported.

The five percent fatality rate being experienced - far above the norm of one percent - could result in more than 6,000 deaths before the rainy season ends in April, should the latest estimate of 115,000 cases become a reality.

UNICEF attributed "the largest cholera outbreak in modern day Zimbabwe" to a variety of factors, from the country's economic meltdown - annual inflation is estimated in the trillions of percent and unemployment cited at 94 percent - to the collapse of the health sector and a nearly year-long political crisis following disputed elections.

UNICEF has extended an emergency appeal - initially expected to end in March - to May, and asked for a further US$32 million to cover its operations, after having received US$11 million.

Gideon Gono, the Reserve Bank governor, said in Newsweek article published on 24 January that "Cholera is under control ... Every year there is a cholera outbreak in southern Africa; the epicentre of the disease just happened to be in Zimbabwe this year.


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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