YESTERDAY marked exactly one year since the first cholera outbreak case was recorded in Chegutu.
However, the country is fighting back and Dr Stephen Karimu, Deputy Cholera Incident Manager in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, said positive progress in combating the outbreak has been made.
Over 1.4 million people have been vaccinated against cholera.
However, Dr Karimu acknowledged there were still uptake challenges, particularly in Harare, where vaccine coverage is only around 60 percent.
He said vaccines were arriving in batches, which may also be contributing to the low uptake.
“You might remember that the first case of cholera was on the 12th of February 2023 in Chegutu, so it has taken us a full year.
“Ideally, an outbreak should be able to be controlled within two weeks, but 12 months later, we still have cholera.
“Since the onset of the outbreak, Zimbabwe has recorded 23 905 suspected cholera cases, 2 511 confirmed cases, 23 147 recoveries, 71 confirmed deaths and 454 suspected deaths with a Case Fatality Rate of 1.91 percent.
“So we’ve reached the 20 000 mark in terms of all suspected cases. Of the 23 905 cases, 23 147 have recovered.”
Dr Karimu said they were rolling out numerous interventions to respond to the cholera outbreak with the latest action being the Oral Cholera Vaccination drive.
“The OCV is not a magic bullet, but it gives us breathing space. When you get one shot of OCV, you are protected for six months,” he said.
“In an ideal environment, you are supposed to get two shots, and the protection goes up to three years so this gives us space. Even though the programme has recorded successes, it continues to face uptake challenges owing to a myriad of factors, chief among them being vaccine hesitancy and vaccine misinformation.
“I’m glad to report that in some provinces, coverage of the targeted population and what they’ve actually received has been above 100 percent.
“We still have some challenges in Harare. Coverage in Harare is around 60 percent, but we expect it to continue peaking.
“We still have some challenges in Manicaland and Chitungwiza where coverage is between 70 and 80 percent.
“So that’s where we have challenges in terms of OCV coverage. But the challenges are surmountable,” he said.