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Zimbabwe Cholera Epidemic Still Expanding, But Death Rate Easing - WHO

The latest World Health Organization weekly bulletin on the cholera epidemic which continues to ravage Zimbabwe concludes that “the epidemic is still not under control.”

Issued Thursday, the epidemiological bulletin providing a more in-depth analysis than WHO's daily updates, said 7,458 new cases were reported in the week of February 8-14, an increase of 5.4% from the previous reporting period. But cholera deaths at 217 declined 0.9% as the overall fatality rate declined to 2.9 percent from 3.1 percent the week before.

The U.N. agency's daily update with data through Wednesday said a total of 3,731 people have died from cholera since August 2008 from a total of nearly 80,000 cases.

The WHO epidemiological bulletin said the provinces most heavily affected were Mashonaland Central, Manicaland, Mashonaland West and Masvingo. Cases in Harare declined.

Districts in Mashonaland Central showed the highest rates of cholera attacks with Shamva recording 464 cases per 100,000 inhabitants and Mount Darwin with 416 per 100,000. Guruve, Rushinga and Bindura also had high rates of cholera infection.

In Mashonaland West province the districts of Makonde (including Chinhoyi town), Kadoma, Hurungwe (including Karoi and Chimundu), and Zvimba were hard hit recently.

In Masvingo the districts of Chiredzi and Bikita were singled out as hot spots. In Manicaland the Chipinge, Buhera and Nyanga districts reported high rates of cholera attack.

Dr. Christophe Fournier, president of the international humanitarian organization Medecins Sans Frontières, told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that cholera continues to run rampant due to the total collapse of the state health system.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...