Despite the rising number of cholera cases in Zimbabwe, the World Health Organization says progress is being made against the epidemic.
WHO spokesman Paul Garwood, in Geneva, provides the latest figures. He says, "73,000 cases of cholera had been reported since August and of those almost 3,500 people have died."
Despite that, there are signs of some progress in the effort to stop the epidemic. Garwood says, "Yes, we're seeing evidence on a weekly basis of the case fatality rate. That is, the number of people who die from contracting cholera is reducing, particularly in health institutions, such as cholera treatment centers and hospitals and the like. This evidence is needing to be further scrutinized and checked, but we have been seeing in recent weeks such a fall."
He says the figures show that people who are able to get to hospitals or treatment centers have a much higher rate of survival, underscoring the need for greater access to those facilities.
The WHO spokesman says that while cholera is endemic to many countries in the region, it has not been in Zimbabwe. But that may be changing due to the high number of cases."One of the major factors, I suppose, is that the disease itself becomes rooted within the community. So, if that community has any challenges in terms of obtaining access to clean, safe water or appropriate sanitation or health care, it's hard to root small pockets of that disease out," he says.