Southern Africa Grapples with Deadliest Cholera Outbreak in a Decade

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A waterborne disease, cholera, has claimed over 4,000 lives in seven countries across central and southern Africa over the past two years. Experts attribute the severity of the outbreak to factors such as severe storms, a lack of vaccines, and inadequate water and sewer systems.

The dire situation is evident in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, where Sandra Mwayera mourns the death of her brother from cholera, a scene repeated in other affected regions. The lack of treatment facilities and resources compounds the challenges faced by those affected.

In Zambia’s National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka, makeshift treatment centers struggle to cope with the rising cases. Memory Musonda, a 24-year-old, died in one such facility, with her family learning about her death four days later. The government’s handling of burials adds to the distress, as families struggle to locate graves.

Cholera Outbreak (Credits: Vatican News)

The cholera outbreak has reached alarming proportions in five countries, spanning from the Democratic Republic of Congo in the north to Mozambique in the south.

With over 220,000 infections and 4,000 fatalities, this regional outbreak marks the deadliest in terms of cases and deaths in Africa in at least a decade, as reported by Dr. Patrick Otim, overseeing the cholera response for the World Health Organization in Africa.

The widespread nature of the outbreak across multiple countries simultaneously is a rare occurrence, posing significant challenges for public health workers.

The urgent need for intervention, including vaccines, improved water and sanitation infrastructure, and enhanced preparedness and response mechanisms, is crucial to mitigate the impact of this devastating cholera epidemic.

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