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Last year, there were more than 109,442 cholera cases resulting in 1,708 deaths in 12 countries in the Eastern and Southern Africa Region (ESAR), according to the UN children’s agency, UNICEF.
Since the beginning of 2018, there have been more than 2,009 cases and a further 22 deaths in seven countries – Angola, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Somalia, Tanzania, and Zambia.
Zambia has been among the hardest hit, with the waterborne disease killing more than 74 people since October last year.
The government and the WHO blame poor waste management and inadequate personal hygiene for the contamination of water and food in the townships, which has driven the epidemic.
The government’s response has been to call in the army to help enforce control measures, clean markets, and unblock drains. It also launched an oral vaccine programme with a target of immunising one million people, and the number of cases is now beginning to fall.
Tackling the risk factors requires a developmental response and long-term investment.
But by far the worst-affected countries have been war-debilitated Somalia and South Sudan, with 72 percent and 16 percent respectively of the total cholera caseload.
Beyond the ESAR region, the Democratic Republic of Congo is experiencing the worst cholera outbreak since 1994, with 55,000 cases and 1,190 deaths reported in 24 out of 26 provinces last year, according to Médecins Sans Frontières.
Read the full article on cholera by Tonderayi Mukeredzi at IRIN