The International Federation of the Red Cross says it has deployed seven emergency response teams to Zimbabwe to combat the country's worsening cholera epidemic.

The aid agency Wednesday announced the deployment, and stressed the need to bring Zimbabwe's cholera epidemic under control. The agency says cholera patients in Zimbabwe have a five percent fatality rate - far higher than the normal one percent.

The Red Cross normally reserves its emergency response units for major disasters - earthquakes, floods, and other emergency scenarios.

Meanwhile in Malawi, the health secretary, Chris Kang'ombe, said today that 11 people have been killed by cholera in recent days. He said over 200 cases of the disease have been reported since the outbbreak began.

The World Health Organization says the rate of cholera infections and deaths in Zimbabwe shows no sign of slowing, with the death toll rising above 1,600.

The WHO also says more than 30,000 cases of cholera have been reported in the country.

Cholera is a bacterial infection that spreads through contaminated water. The disease has been spreading rapidly in Zimbabwe because of the failure of the country's health, sewage and water systems.

Aid workers have warned that the cholera outbreak could get worse once the rainy season begins.

Zimbabwe's growing health, economic and political crisis has triggered international calls for President Robert Mugabe to step down.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.