an acute intestinal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. It has a short incubation period and produces an enterotoxin that causes a copious, painless, watery diarrhoea that can quickly lead to severe dehydration and death if treatment is not promptly given. Vomiting also occurs in most patients.
Cholera is hitting Zimbabwe hard at the moment with an estimated 300 people having succumbed, 6,000 reported cases and 1.4 million people at risk. Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA), the government body responsible for water provisions and sewage management has failed to provide adequate services which has lead to the cholera outbreak. Those who once had running tap water now have no choice but to seek out water in shallow wells and rivers but the pools of stagnant sewage dotted around the streets does not make the situation any better.
The already crippled health system is struggling to ease the situation and for all we know, the actual number of people with cholera could be well above the reported estimates. The government has been urged by Zimbabwe’s Medical Association to declare a national disaster which would bring aid to ease the situation. At the moment it seems as if the Zanu PF government may not see the need to take such measures. With the onset of the rainy season the epidemic could get a whole lot worse and see many more people dying.