By Vivian Mugarisi
Mutare, Zimbabwe – The World Health Organization (WHO) upgraded and expanded the cholera treatment centers (CTCs) at Chiadzwa and Zvipiripiri Rural Health Centres to strengthen the country’s response to the ongoing cholera outbreak. The rural health centres are both located in Mutare District, Manicaland Province. This move aims to improve access to critical care and prevent further deaths and spread of the disease in vulnerable communities.
The upgrading of the CTCs led to increased bed capacity through expanding the facilities to accommodate a larger number of cholera patients and provide them with essential treatment. For Zvipiripiri, an eight (8) bed unit was transformed into a 12-bed to strengthen cholera case management. At Chiadzwa, a 6-bed unit was turned into a 16-bed treatment center.
Both facilities were supported with medical supplies, including rehydration fluids, antibiotics, and other cholera-specific treatment materials. Installation of sanitation facilities such as waste pits and emergency latrines was done to ensure proper waste management and hygiene to prevent further transmission. Triage points were also set for organized flow of patients and staff to reduce infections.
The upgrade was followed by a visit by a high-level delegation led by the Minister of Health and Child Care, the Honorable Dr Douglas Mombeshora, with support from UNICEF Country Representative Dr Tajudeen Oyewale and WHO Representative to Zimbabwe Professor Jean-Marie Dangou.
Dr Mombeshora highlighted the need to increase community engagement to reduce the rate of infection in communities and appreciated the support from various partners. He also noted that government was working to increase borehole coverage in Manicaland to improve available of fresh water.
“We are thankful for all the organizations helping with the outbreak response. We recently received equipment from WHO and we need to identify places where these are needed the most so that we distribute them and help fight the outbreak.”
The cholera outbreak, which started in Chegutu district in February 2023, has infected thousands and claimed several lives. The surge has strained the existing healthcare capacity, particularly in remote areas and is mostly attributed to inadequate clean water and poor sanitation.
Manicaland, where the upgraded facilities are, has the highest number of cases as at 14 December 2023 with highest number of deaths both suspected and confirmed.
“These upgrades are crucial to ensure timely and effective care for cholera patients in rural areas,” says Professor Dangou. “By expanding treatment capacity, improving hygiene, and equipping healthcare workers, we can save lives and contain the outbreak.”
“WHO is appreciative for the strong guidance shown by the Minister of Health and Child Care in leading the response to the outbreak,” he added.
The WHO’s intervention is part of a broader effort to manage the cholera outbreak in collaboration with government and partners. WHO is also supporting the government with awareness raising about hygiene practices, safe water sources, and early symptom recognition through community outreach programs, strengthening disease surveillance systems to identify new cases promptly and ensure proper case management whilst exploring the feasibility of targeted reactive cholera vaccination campaigns in high-risk areas.
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