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As Rains Arrive, Zimbabwe Authorities Say Country Ready to Fend Off Cholera


Red Cross Country Representative Ofor Nwobodo of Nigeria said non-governmental organizations are raising public awareness of cholera risks and making sure clean water is generally available

A Red Cross official in Harare said Monday that Zimbabwe, which experienced a harrowing epidemic in 2008-2009 in which some 4,200 people died, is ready to defend itself against cholera with the rainy season at hand.

Red Cross Country Representative Ofor Nwobodo of Nigeria said non-governmental organizations are raising public awareness of cholera risks and making sure clean water is generally available.

Such assurances follow a reported 16 deaths from cholera in Marange district of Manicaland province since October. State media said some 670 people in the Marange diamond field have been affected by the outbreak.

Sources in Manicaland province said access to the stricken area is tightly controlled by the military, which has been in charge of the diamond zone since 2006, and the sick are being taken to Mutare Hospital.

Red Cross representative Nwobodo told reporter Patience Rusere there is no need to fear a major outbreak.

Lawmaker Blessing Chebundo, a member of the parliamentary committee on health, said the government has taken measures against outbreaks and will soon launch a major public awareness campaign to prevent them.

In the August 2008-May 2009 epidemic close to 100,000 cases of cholera developed, largely due to contaminated water supplies in urban and rural areas alike, and the rate of fatalities was unusually high because the national health care system had virtually collapsed due to funding shortages, poor management and labor actions.

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