HARARE, March 29 (Xinhua) -- The Zimbabwean government has approved a 24-million-U.S. dollar budget to fight cholera, as 13 countries in Africa grapple with the epidemic that has killed hundreds of people since the beginning of the year.
Many Zimbabweans still remember the cholera outbreak which hit the country between 2008 and 2009 and left more than 4,000 people dead from more than 98,500 reported cases, and the current outbreak - the worst to affect the region in recent years - has been described by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) as an emergency for children.
As of March 28, Zimbabwe had recorded 231 suspected cholera cases and two deaths.
Zimbabwean cabinet ministers on Tuesday considered a report on the national cholera response presented by Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care Constantino Chiwenga and assured the nation that the situation is under control.
Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Monica Mutsvangwa told a briefing after the cabinet meeting that the cholera outbreaks in Africa have been occurring in the context of cyclones, floods, conflicts, poor sanitation and unreliable water supplies.
Cross-border mobility also played a part in the spread of cholera and other diseases, she said.
"So far, 13 African countries have reported cholera outbreaks. Despite the cases reported in Zimbabwe, the case fatality rate is still low. Zimbabwe's cumulative suspected cholera cases stood at 231, with 209 recoveries and two deaths. Out of the country's 10 provinces, only Matabeleland North and Midlands have so far not reported any cholera cases," Mutsvangwa said.
She assured the nation that the situation is under control as active screening at ports of entry and exit and surveillance activities are taking place.
"Cabinet approved a total budget of 24,168,353 U.S. dollars for the cholera epidemic preparedness and response plan. Several partners including the World Health Organization have pledged to support part of the budget," Mutsvangwa said.
Community and political leaders are also expected to lend maximum support to the anti-cholera program through awareness activities, she added.