In Brief: Zimbabwe's cholera cases expected to reach 115,000
Cholera cases expected to double
Johannesburg, 6 February 2009 (IRIN) - A revised estimate of 115,000 cholera cases in Zimbabwe is the new "working figure", according to a UN Children's Fund report released on 4 February.
Zimbabwe's cholera outbreak began in August 2008 and the World Health Organization's (WHO) prediction of a "worst case scenario" in December 2008 of 60,000 cases was passed a few days ago. Up until 5 February 2009, 3,371 people had died from the waterborne disease and 67,945 cases had been reported.
The five percent fatality rate being experienced - far above the norm of one percent - could result in more than 6,000 deaths before the rainy season ends in April, should the latest estimate of 115,000 cases become a reality.
UNICEF attributed "the largest cholera outbreak in modern day Zimbabwe" to a variety of factors, from the country's economic meltdown - annual inflation is estimated in the trillions of percent and unemployment cited at 94 percent - to the collapse of the health sector and a nearly year-long political crisis following disputed elections.
UNICEF has extended an emergency appeal - initially expected to end in March - to May, and asked for a further US$32 million to cover its operations, after having received US$11 million.
Gideon Gono, the Reserve Bank governor, said in Newsweek article published on 24 January that "Cholera is under control ... Every year there is a cholera outbreak in southern Africa; the epicentre of the disease just happened to be in Zimbabwe this year.
Health & Nutrition,
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]