Serious cholera epidemic is spreading in Zimbabwe – additional aid from the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund

Photo: Fleur Verwer / IFRC

We will allocate EUR 150,000 from our Disaster Relief Fund to prevent cholera in Zimbabwe. The aid will be used in cooperation with the Red Cross Society of Zimbabwe to help raise awareness of cholera and prevent its spread.

Over 20,000 people in Zimbabwe are suspected of being infected with cholera in the last few months, and over 70 people have been reported to have died of cholera. We have supported the prevention of cholera in Zimbabwe with the support of the European Union since last year and we are now sending further aid from our Disaster Relief Fund.

Funding allocated from the Disaster Relief Fund maintains rehydration points for people infected with cholera, as well as enables training and support for volunteers to raise awareness of cholera, its prevention and treatment in local communities. We also assist Zimbabwe Red Cross Society in purchasing aid supplies such as rehydration solution, drinking water, chlorination supplies and protective clothing.

– The Red Cross volunteers help identify the symptoms of cholera, give guidance on the importance of hand and food hygiene and provide immediate treatment. Additionally, the Zimbabwe Red Cross is transporting people most severely affected to the cholera treatment centre, says Tiina Saarikoski, the director of International Operations.

The Zimbabwe Red Cross is transporting people most severely affected to the cholera treatment centre.
Tiina Saarikoski

Volunteers bring help close

Cholera is a highly communicable disease that is most often transmitted via contaminated water. Cholera has been encountered in Zimbabwe almost annually since 2002.

Due to the weak financial situation in the country, a large number of people have quickly moved away from rural areas to find work in the region surrounding the capital city, Harare, and the urban infrastructure has not been able to keep up with the migration. Most of the urban population do not have access to clean water and hygiene services.

– At rehydration points, cholera patients can get help close to their home. Volunteers help reduce the burden on the healthcare system, as people with milder symptoms can be treated locally. People who are seriously ill and patients at higher risk, such as children under the age of five and elderly patients, are sent to hospital for treatment, Saarikoski says.

In addition to preparing for cholera, we support preparedness work of the Zimbabwe Red Cross and development co-operation programme. We have also sent a healthcare professional and a professional of operations management to support the cholera operation of the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society.