There’s endemic cholera in this area, and there’s been a few actual positive test cases, positive cases here at the Manana hospital, just just a block over that way. Cholera is a stomach virus spread often by contaminated water sources, and can be deadly if not treated in its early stages. Humanitarian organizations including Doctors Without Borders and the International Red Cross have set up health clinics to treat the rising number of cholera cases.
The World Health Organization has shipped more than 900 thousand doses of cholera vaccines, and the US Agency for International Development is also financially supporting the vaccination campaign as part of its seven million dollar contribution to disaster assistance.
The Ministry of Health is leading the efforts in ensuring that the communities where there’s a possible risk of this particular diarrhea illness coming to affect, the community that there’s an opportunity for people to receive the vaccine ahead of being exposed. Sanitizing one contaminated well can reduce the risk of infection for an entire neighborhood. We have more than 200 people who use this well from all over this area. But it is a labor intensive process where workers first pump out contaminated water, then treats it well with a powerful chlorine agent to kill harmful bacteria. The next day, the well is again pumped to dilute the chlorine. We are not going to be in all the wells, but those that are more more most used by population, those that have provided good water in the past. Despite the surge of international assistance, the cholera situation remains difficult to contain in a country with already widespread poverty and still facing a long recovery from the extensive cyclone damage.
Brian Padden VOA News Beira.