Rains could worsen cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe

January 5th, 2009 - 7:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Harare, Jan 5 (IANS) The fresh rains in Zimbabwe could aggravate a cholera epidemic that has already killed over 1,600 people since August, officials said.Relief agency the Red Cross said it was preparing for the likelihood of worsening situation in Zimbabwe and warned that there was a risk of floods that could prevent its workers from accessing the cholera affected areas, BuaNews reported.

“We are just preparing for the worst,” said Francoise Le Goff, head of southern African operations of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

“The heavy rain could not only help to spread cholera, but could also cause floods,” the official said.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said of the total 30,365 cholera-affected people, 1,608 have died since the outbreak of the disease in August.

WHO said up to 60,000 people could be infected with cholera before the disease is brought under control in Zimbabwe.

The cholera epidemic, coupled with acute food shortages, has highlighted Zimbabwe’s worsening economic and humanitarian crisis, which critics blame on the mismanagement of funds by President Robert Mugabe, who ruled the country since its independence from Britain in 1980.

Western leaders and some African leaders alarmed by the rising cholera deaths in the country have stepped up calls for Mugabe’s resignation.

However, the 53-member African Union has rejected calls to oust Mugabe and reiterated its stand that a power-sharing government between the veteran ruler and the opposition is the best way to end Zimbabwe’s political, economic and humanitarian crises.

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