Digital News Report- According to the United Nations, the cholera epidemic that began in Zimbabwe in August has claimed 978 lives as of the third week of October. This is a 25% increase from the end of last week. The UN has also stated that there have been an estimated 18,413 reported cases in the country total since the outbreak began.
Poor sanitation, a collapsed water supply, and a lack of healthcare services have helped the disease spread. The rainy season has washed waste into water sources. The capital city of Harare, which has been hit the worst by the epidemic, stopped receiving piped water on Dec 1 2008 due to a lack of purification chemicals.
Harare has had 208 fatalities out of 8,454 suspected cases. The town of Beitbridge, which is located on the border with South Africa, has had 91 fatalities out of 3,546 cases. According to Oxfam, the high number of fatalities, “is due to the fact Zimbabweans are seriously weakened by hunger, HIV and AIDS.” The South African Red Cross has sent medical aid to Zimbabwe, and has asked for funds to treat thirty thousand people.
Last week, Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe held a televised address where he stated, “there is no cholera, there is no cause for war.” Many other Zimbabwean officials have accused the United Kingdom of intentionally spreading the virus. Mugabe has also blamed other western nations for plotting the outbreak in an attempt to overthrow him.
USAID has given $6,200,000 in aid on December 11th. The Red Cross has donated 13 tons of medical supplies. As the disease spreads, outbreaks or deaths have been reported in Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa, and Zambia