In a move aimed at complementing and supplementing the Ministry of Health and Child Care's efforts to step up essential emergency preparedness and response, WHO Zimbabwe handed over cholera and emergency reproductive health kits. The cholera and reproductive health kits are meant to support preparedness and response measures that the ministry is currently putting in place to restock districts and provinces at risk of possible outbreaks of diseases or need.
Zimbabwe reported an outbreak of Cholera on the 19th January and the current cumulative number of cases is 32 (30 suspected and 2 confirmed.) Typhoid fever continues occurring in Harare City. Although the situation seems to be under control, there is need for the country to strengthen preparedness measures in order to curtail transmission in other parts of the country.
Speaking at the handover, Dr Portia Manangazira, Director, Epidemiology and Disease Control in the Ministry of Health and Child Care said Zimbabwe has not been spared from disease outbreaks, and mentioned the unprecedented cholera outbreak of 2005 - 2009, and the measles outbreak of 2010-2011. She also said the rainy season also comes with the threat of diarrhoeal diseases so the kits from WHO will be prepositioned in affected and at risk areas so that cases are dealt with immediately to prevent further spread. Harare is experiencing a typhoid outbreak since October 2017. Speaking at the handover, Dr Masunda from the Harare City Health Department said typhoid started in the suburb of Mbare but has spread to other suburbs.
In a statement read on his behalf by Dr Portia Manangazira, the Permanent Secretary for Health and Child Care, Major General Dr Gerald Gwinji said the support from WHO will go a long way to complement the efforts of the Ministry of Health. He said the situation of cholera and typhoid needs strong surveillance and other measures like pre-positioning supplies in affected areas. He also said rapid response teams at district and provincial levels are on high alert for cholera and typhoid cases and surveillance has been intensified to identify and treat all cases.
In her statement, the Officer in Charge for Zimbabwe Country Office, Dr Juliet Nabyonga said the donation of the kits is meant to support the preparedness and response measures that the Ministry of Health is currently putting in place. She also said that in emergency situations, women and girls are disproportionately affected and face multiple sexual and reproductive health challenges including the inability to access essential services such as delivery and contraception. “It is in this vein that in addition to the cholera kits, WHO would like to support emergency preparedness with a donation of Emergency Reproductive Health kits," said Dr Nabyonga. The kits comprise of twelve “sub kits" for use at different levels of health care, and are designed mainly to provide contraceptives, to treat sexually transmitted diseases, to ensure a clean and safe delivery or to manage the consequences of rape.
Dr Nabyonga also reiterated WHO’s commitment to provide technical support to the Ministry of Health and Child Care in capacity building in diarrhoeal disease surveillance, case management, and strengthening of Rapid Response Teams, among others.