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Cyclone Idai: cholera risk threatens more lives

CYCLONE IDAI: A health worker walks between tents used for cholera treatment at the cholera treatment Centre at Macurungu Health Centre, Biera (Image: © Unicef/De Wet)

MORE THAN two weeks after Cyclone Idai devastated areas of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, cholera is now threatening the lives of survivors of the disaster.

The first death from the disease in Mozambique was confirmed this week in the port city of Beira, which was one of the worst hit areas.

Cases of the disease are rising sharply, according to information from health officials.

More than 700 people have lost their lives in the immediate aftermath of what has been deemed the worst weather-related disaster to hit the southern hemisphere.

Over 500 cases of cholera have been reported in Beira alone. While more than 1,000 people are understood to have contracted the disease in Mozambique, according to the health ministry.

Almost 900,000 doses of the cholera vaccine arrived in Beira yesterday.

“The procurement of vaccines is one of several approaches Unicef and its partners are taking to curb the spread of cholera, along with re-establishing water treatment systems and distributing water purification products. Humanitarian teams are acting quickly to raise awareness in communities about symptoms and prevention methods, including hygiene practices and the important need for the vaccinations, particularly in the current conditions which include stagnant water and overcrowding in temporary shelters,” said Michel Le Pechoux, the deputy representative of Unicef Mozambique.

Cholera, an acute diarrheal disease, can kill within hours if it is not treated. Ingestion of contaminated food and water are the main causes.

Concerns

The BBC has reported that there are growing concerns in Mozambique over how aid is being distributed, with some accusing those charged with parcelling aid to those in need of keeping it for themselves and their families.

Augusta Maita, the disaster relief agency chief, said that controls had been increased in response to the claims.

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