The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
says a nightmare scenario is unfolding in Zimbabwe as the number of
cholera deaths and cases continues to mount. The Red Cross says it is
hit with a severe funding crisis and this is hampering its ability to
contain the deadly disease.
Senior health officer for the
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies,
Tammam Aloudat, has recently returned from Zimbabwe. He says the
cholera outbreak in the country is increasing in scale and it is
claiming more lives.
"The scenario that was described a few
weeks ago and was told to be an excessive nightmare scenario is
happening," said Aloudat. "It is unraveling in front of our eyes. We
have close to 50,000 cases and close to 3,000 deaths already."
Several weeks ago, humanitarian agencies were warning that
Zimbabwe's cholera epidemic could peak at 60,000. They called this a
nightmare scenario and said all measures must be taken to contain the
Aloudat says the Red Cross and other aid agencies
have the expertise and the will to control a disease that, under more
normal circumstances, can be fairly easily contained and prevented.
as we speak, the Red Cross is providing treatment, providing
sanitation, water and providing volunteers who are going to their
communities to educate them and providing personal hygiene materials,"
said Aloudat. "This is what has the potential to avert a cholera
outbreak. We can definitely contain this outbreak given the
resources. We are not anymore in the 19th century."
is the problem. The Red Cross is not being given the resources, the
money it needs to carry out its life-saving mission. The agency
appealed for over $9 million at the end of last year.
Aloudat says this appeal is about 60 percent under-funded.
lack of funding is probably a mixture of several aspects and most
important, we have seen the funding drop when Zimbabwe dropped off the
TV screens. It is not about the politics or persons here. It is about
the ability to reach people who are now dying of cholera and need
assistance now. I think linking the humanitarian assistance to cholera
to politics is not a good idea."
Aloudat says Zimbabwe's
health system is completely shattered. He says health professionals
are not going to work because they are hungry and they are not being
paid. He says one of the most important things that must be done to
control the epidemic is to top off the salaries of doctors and nurses
so they report for work.