The World Health Organization Representative’s Groundbreaking Visit to Cholera-Affected Provinces in Zimbabwe

The World Health Organization Representative’s Groundbreaking Visit to Cholera-Affected Provinces in Zimbabwe

<div>The World Health Organization Representative's Groundbreaking Visit to Cholera-Affected Provinces in Zimbabwe</div>
<div>The World Health Organization Representative's Groundbreaking Visit to Cholera-Affected Provinces in Zimbabwe</div>

World Health Organzation (WHO) - Zimbabwe

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently embarked on an unprecedented joint mission with the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MOHCC) to visit cholera-affected provinces. The WHO Representative a.i., Professor Jean-Marie Dangou, and MoHCC Director for Epidemiology and Disease Control, Dr. Rudo Chikodzore, visited the hardest-hit provinces and districts from June 12 to 21, 2023, to better understand the ongoing cholera outbreak, other health emergencies, and support the cholera control program in the country. The visit marked the new acting WHO Representative’s first field visit in the country, where he traveled to the affected areas to assess the situation firsthand, ensuring a more informed and targeted response to the health emergency.

The WHO acting Representative in Zimbabwe arrived in the country in February 2023 and has since continued to support and strengthen the country’s health delivery system. The joint mission with MoHCC provided Professor Dangou with a deeper understanding of the health system and the needs of the affected areas, ensuring more effective guidance and support from the WHO.

“This visit was key for us in staying abreast with the ongoing challenges in the provinces affected by cholera. The issues raised are of utmost importance, and we remain fully committed to responding to this outbreak. We will raise all these issues at the highest levels to ensure that we can effectively address the situation,” emphasized Dr. Chikodzore, speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC).

The primary objectives of the visit included demonstrating and observing the collaborative efforts between the government of Zimbabwe, WHO, and other partners to address the cholera outbreak. Additionally, Professor Dangou gathered evidence on the ground regarding economic and programmatic needs, such as human resources and logistics, to advocate for increased support from the international community. The visit also afforded Professor Dangou an appreciation of some of the broader health system issues in the country.

During the visit, Professor Dangou and Dr. Chikodzore met with provincial leadership in Bulawayo, Matebeleland South, and Harare. In addition, they visited health facilities in each province, such as Mpilo Hospital, Beitbridge Hospital, and Sally Mugabe Hospital, including cholera hotspot suburbs SDP in Beitbridge and Glen View One in Harare. Moreover, they visited port health authorities at the points of entry at Beitbridge Health Post and Joshua Nkomo International Airport health port.

During the visit, it became clear that urgent attention is needed to address several challenges, which included inadequate water supply and sanitation infrastructure and capability, human resource turnover negatively affecting capacities for case management and surveillance, among other issues. WASH and Waste Management issues, for example, were highlighted as major concerns across all the provinces. The severity of the situation calls for a multi-sectoral approach to effectively respond to the cholera outbreak. Additionally, there is a pressing need to cascade IDSR to sub-national levels and provide refresher training on cholera case management. These challenges cannot be ignored and require immediate action to prevent further harm to public health.

“This grassroots approach provided me with invaluable insight into the drivers and effects of the cholera outbreak on the people of Zimbabwe, as well as the possible impact on the economy. I truly applaud the tremendous work and commitment of health workers in responding to this outbreak and call on all stakeholders to increase their support to the Government of Zimbabwe to end the outbreak,” said Professor Dangou.

Professor Dangou’s initiative to engage directly with the affected communities signifies a renewed commitment to addressing the cholera outbreak and other health emergencies in Zimbabwe. By providing targeted support and gathering real-life information from the ground, the WHO aims to ensure the people of Zimbabwe receive the care and resources they need to overcome these challenges.

The cholera outbreak has affected numerous parts of Zimbabwe, including all ten provinces and 32 districts, prompting the MoHCC, with support from WHO, to deploy prevention and control measures. These efforts have been supported by WHO’s donations of cholera kits containing essential medicines and laboratory reagents, as well as technical support to build the capacity of frontline health workers in combating the outbreak. Simultaneously, the organizations continue to address the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic and other health emergencies.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Health Organzation (WHO) – Zimbabwe.