The Zambian authorities have declared an escalation of their health campaign to combat the increasing incidence of cholera, a disease that has been on the rise since October, claiming nearly a hundred lives in the southern African country this year.

Minister of Health Sylvia Masebo has urged the implementation of more stringent hygiene measures in households. The Minister of Water, Mike Mposha, announced a wider distribution of chlorine to disinfect contaminated water in the regions most affected by cholera.

Sylvia Masebo reported five deaths and 111 new cases of contamination within 24 hours, attributing the spike to heavy rainfall, which accelerates the transmission of the bacterial disease through infected water and food. This marks the highest daily total in 2023.

The National Institute of Public Health reported 93 deaths this year from cholera, with the majority occurring since October. Minister Masebo, speaking at a press conference, described the current mortality rate of around 3% as “very worrying,” given that the international average is less than 1%.

Zimbabwe, Zambia’s cholera-affected neighbor, has declared a state of emergency. The World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed concern over the global surge in cholera cases, with Africa being the hardest hit. Reported cholera cases more than doubled from 223,370 in 2021 to 472,697 in 2022. By September 2023, there were already over 580,000 cases, according to the UN health agency.

In addition to the cholera crisis, Zambia is grappling with its worst anthrax epidemic since 2011. Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, and Zimbabwe have also reported cases of anthrax this year, with a total of 20 deaths and approximately 1,100 suspected cases in these five countries as of mid-December.

Quest: Emmanuel kelvin

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