With over 15 hundred deaths reported
from cholera in Zimbabwe, humanitarian agencies are stepping up efforts to stop
the epidemic. However, the number of cases could rise due to heavy rains and
Farid Abdulkadir is
the Red Cross regional national disaster management coordinator for southern
Africa. He's just returned to Johannesburg from Zimbabwe and spoke to VOA
English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua.
"The biggest problem
that is the main cause of the cholera is…the water system is almost collapsed,
where you have lack of chemicals, damaged infrastructure that results (in) poor
water supply. That actually has made cholera spread very widely. And of course,
right now, with the flood and excessive rain…in Zimbabwe you actually expect a
spike of the cases that will be reported," he says.
Adding to the problem is a
weakened health system. "The staff has not been paid…adequately, so they stop
working, and also lack of medicine. So there are a number of factors that have
actually made the cholera situation in Zimbabwe worse off than it was before,"
He stresses it is a
"weakened" healthcare system, not one that has collapsed. "When you have very
few health workers, when you have very little drugs to operate, it is a system
that has greatly been weakened because of the economic situation and other
factors in Zimbabwe. So, it is really to try and support the current Ministry
of Health infrastructure, but at the same time reinforce the water system," he says.
Abdulkadir adds health care workers should be given some economic support so
they'll return to work.
The Red Cross official says,
currently humanitarian agencies have full access to the country, but he warns
travel could become a problem because of heavy rains and floods.
Red Cross…has sent in seven emergency response units composed of almost 60
people from 17 nationalities," he says. The teams concentrate on cholera
prevention, water and sanitation. Other humanitarian agencies are conducting