In an urgent response to a devastating cholera outbreak, the Zimbabwean government has declared a state of emergency in its capital, Harare, on Friday, November 17. This action comes as the city, home to approximately 1.5 million residents, faces a critical health crisis that has spread across all provinces of the southern African nation.
Since February, Zimbabwe has been grappling with a cholera outbreak that has resulted in over 7,000 suspected cases and nearly 150 fatalities. Of these, 51 deaths have been confirmed through laboratory tests, highlighting the severity of the situation. Harare has been particularly hard-hit, with at least 12 lives lost to the disease.
Cholera, an acute diarrhoeal infection, is primarily caused by a bacterium found in contaminated food or water sources. Simple preventive measures like washing hands with soap under clean running water and consuming only boiled or treated water are effective in combating the spread of this infection.
However, the situation in Zimbabwe is compounded by erratic water supplies and a crumbling infrastructure in several cities, making these preventive practices challenging to maintain. Recognizing the gravity of the crisis, the country’s health ministry has collaborated with various aid groups to intensify efforts. These include increasing water supply in affected areas and initiating extensive public awareness campaigns.
Harare’s Mayor, Ian Makone, emphasized the collaborative efforts underway, aiming to tackle the health emergency head-on. “We are committed to doubling our efforts to ensure access to clean water and to educate our citizens on cholera prevention,” stated Mayor Makone.
This cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe mirrors a worrying global trend. The United Nations earlier reported a worldwide resurgence of the disease since 2021, signalling a growing health concern that requires international attention and support.
As Zimbabwe confronts this health crisis, the global community watches and hopes for a swift and effective response to contain and ultimately eradicate the deadly cholera outbreak.