Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Cholera in Mozambique

Cholera outbreaks are a regular occurrence in Mozambique. Heavy rains and insufficient water and sanitation infrastructure make both the urban and rural populations vulnerable to cholera. Only 38% of the urban population has access to improved sanitation and 4% of the rural population. Overall, 17% of people in the country have access to improved sanitation.

This rainy season, 100 cases have been confirmed. So far, no deaths have been reported as part of the outbreak. Unfortunately, the fear and panic evoked by cholera sometimes spill over into violence. In Mozambique, this has taken the form recently of the death of a community leader at the hands of a mob of people who accused him of deliberately spreading the illness.

This kind of violence and hysteria may seem incomprehensible to those secure in effective health systems and far, far away from the realities of a waterborne disease that kills with impunity and is easily prevented, but it brings home just how terrifying and threatening cholera can be.

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