Leonard Heyerdahl, project manager of Africhol - an initiative of Paris-based NGO Agence de Médecine Préventive that is working in cooperation with the government's National Institute of Health (NIH) - told IRIN that from 30 January, “samples started turning positive [for cholera].” Prior to that, there were 366 cases of severe diarrhoea caused by the salmonella bacteria.
Heavy rains, flooding, displacement and poor access for humanitarian assistance are creating an ideal environment for the proliferation of cholera. Heyerdahl, whose unit is supporting Mozambique’s health authorities, said in such conditions, “one case of cholera is already an epidemic”.
The areas where NIH has identified confirmed cholera cases are Pemba, Mecufi and Metuge. NIH was also testing samples from other provinces, including from southern Mozambique.
Both northern and southern Mozambique have been affected by heavy rains and floods. The UN Resident Coordinator’s Office in Mozambique said that since “major flooding” began in January, 69 people have been killed.
On 25 January, the town of Chokwe in Gaza Province was evacuated, as were parts of Guijá and Chibuto, according to a report published on 31 January.
Further rains are forecast for the coming days, including “upstream countries” of the Limpopo River, “specifically Zimbabwe and South Africa, [and] there are fears that flood conditions could be exacerbated in southern Mozambique over the coming week… Also, moderate-to-heavy rains are forecasted over central and northern Mozambique,” the OCHA situation report said.
In 2000, flooding and cyclones caused widespread damage, killing about 800 people and affecting millions. In 2007, about 285,000 people were affected and 163,000 displaced during the October to April rainy season.
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