Today was Cholera day

November 5th, 2009

Today was Cholera day or at least that’s how it felt to me. Last year there were thousands and thousands of people affected and many died. When told that the symptoms include rice water diarrhoea I had to just think for a moment to understand what that could mean – horrible!

a borehole we developed in a busy area of Harare, one of the areas affected by cholera
the sister in charge of one of the largest cholera camps in Harare

I heard so much about last year’s epidemic, its terrible impacts and the work we are doing together to make sure it can’t happen again.

I met an inspirational nursing sister (she headed up a clinic that had been turned into a cholera camp). She and her band of nurses had treated over 9,000 confirmed cases, yet had managed to record only 93 deaths. A testament to the hard work of her and her team.

I also talked with people in the city council who told me of their work to restore and improve Harare’s water supply and the challenges they face with pumping stations currently being repaired and pipes leaking up to 40% of their water. (I must say the leaky pipes reminded me of problems in the UK.)

At the moment everyone is on the alert for another cholera outbreak – it is pretty much a year ago to the day when cholera was at its height last year but this year rains are late.

As someone said today ‘cholera is eating stool and drinking stool’ – YUK! Never a nice thought, and even worse the terrible disease transmitted. It brings home both the importance of the work we are doing digging and repairing boreholes, also how vital is the work we do on health promotion and the community management so as to ensure work is sustainable. This was described to me today as ‘Practical Action being more practical as it empowers local communities to do the job!’


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