Zimbabwe’s Harare Declares State of Emergency Amid Cholera Outbreak
Amid a devastating cholera outbreak in Harare, Zimbabwe has declared a state of emergency as the death toll rises and suspected cases surpass 7,000.
The outbreak, reminiscent of a deadly 2008 incident that claimed thousands of lives, has sparked concern among city authorities and health officials. Mayor Ian Makone highlighted the severity, stating, “We have declared a state of emergency because of cholera.”
Health authorities are grappling with an overwhelming number of admissions, lacking adequate staff and resources to manage the escalating crisis, according to the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC). The scarcity of clean water has compounded the situation, contributing to the outbreak’s rapid spread.
The high-density suburb of Kuwadzana has emerged as the epicenter of the outbreak, accounting for almost half of the reported cases, city authorities revealed.
Cholera, caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae, spreads through contaminated food or water, leading to acute diarrheal infections. The situation echoes the catastrophic 2008 outbreak, which resulted in the deaths of over 4,000 people and affected more than 100,000, causing a severe breakdown in essential services.
In 2018, Zimbabwe previously declared a state of emergency due to typhoid and cholera cases, reporting 20 deaths and over 2,000 cases.
Harare’s mayor highlighted the resurgence of the crisis, emphasizing its similarity to the 2008 outbreak, stating, “The cholera outbreak has come with vengeance.”
The Ministry of Health reported 7,398 suspected cases and 50 confirmed deaths, with 109 people hospitalized. As a response, the health minister announced measures, including the removal of street food vendors and the provision of safe water through trucking.
The IFRC warned that the outbreak is swiftly spreading across Zimbabwe, impacting multiple areas in 45 out of 62 districts and all 10 provinces. There are concerns about the potential for the outbreak to extend beyond Zimbabwe’s borders, affecting neighboring countries like Malawi, South Africa, and Mozambique, which have previously faced cholera outbreaks.