Red Cross deploys volunteers

HARARE - Red Cross has deployed volunteers to support communities affected by the cholera outbreak which has so far claimed 25 lives.

There are fears that the outbreak might spread across the country as it started in an urban area with high density and high population mobility.

Sporadic cases have already been reported in Midlands, Manicaland, Masvingo and Mashonaland Central provinces outside the outbreak’s epicentre Harare.

“There is a high risk of the disease spreading to other provinces across the country as Midlands is geographically at the centre of the country and there is frequent movement of people. We have deployed most of the Red Cross volunteers to the capital city Harare’s Glen View and Budiriro high density suburbs which have been identified as the epicentre of the outbreak,” said Maxwell Phiri, Zimbabwe Red Cross Society secretary-general.

In response to the current outbreak, the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society is actively involved in community-based monitoring of cholera, house-to-house hygiene promotion, point of use water treatment, active case finding and referral to clinic, street campaigns, road shows, school health promotion targeting teachers and students, health education in churches, crèches, market places, public transport, industrial areas and distribution of water guard, aqua tabs, tapped buckets as well as soap.

Zimbabwe Red Cross has since launched an emergency appeal for $240 000 dollars so that it can directly assist over 15 000 people with water and sanitation services which will be complemented by health and hygiene promotion so as to curb the spiralling of the outbreak which currently has affected over 3 000 people across Zimbabwe.

“Our community disaster response teams comprising staff and volunteers are involved raising awareness on good hygiene practises in affected and at-risk areas surrounding communities as well as supporting overwhelmed health personnel at cholera treatment centres,” added Phiri.

With a countrywide network of 17 000 Red Cross volunteers, so far 1 500 volunteers have been mobilised in the affected areas of Harare, Midlands, Manicaland, Masvingo and Mashonaland Central provinces where sporadic cases of cholera have been reported as the organisation is supporting the government in close collaboration with other humanitarian agencies.

The ministry of Health and Child Care officials have warned that the cholera outbreak could spread rapidly and have devastating consequences if adequate measures to contain it are not scaled up.

What makes the potential humanitarian situation more complex is that most of the areas affected such as Harare and Midlands have suffered a dual outbreak of both cholera and typhoid in recent weeks which has claimed many lives.

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