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Zimbabwe: Cholera

Volume 707: debated on Wednesday 4 February 2009

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe; how many deaths have occurred due to the epidemic; to what extent the epidemic has affected neighbouring countries; and whether medical intervention and support from the United Kingdom has been possible. [HL814]

This is the worst cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe's history. It is a clear indication of the degradation of water, sanitation and health services under the failed and destructive policies of the Mugabe regime. The whole country has been affected, the outbreak is not yet fully under control and statistics change daily—as of 21 January, 48,623 people had been affected, with 2,755 deaths. South Africa has seen almost 3,000 cases reported and 32 deaths, the majority of them attributable to the Zimbabwe outbreak. In other neighbouring countries there have been a handful of cases linked to Zimbabwe.

The international community is working hard to bring the outbreak under control, against a backdrop of country-wide collapsing health systems and the failure of the regime to grasp the seriousness of the situation. The Department for International Development (DfID) has made £10 million available to support essential medical services, to provide cholera response kits and to make clean drinking water available in affected areas. We have also been actively engaged in supporting a World Health Organisation-led command-and-control centre to co-ordinate the international cholera response.