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PSI Responds to Cholera Epidemic in Zimbabwe | Published 09.28.09

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PSI peer educator shows residents of Chitungwiza,
Zimbabwe, how to dose drinking water correctly
with water treatment tablets.

December 12, 2008 —Since the onset of the cholera outbreak in August 2008, more than 16,000 Zimbabweans have been infected and over 700 have lost their lives. The recent spike in cholera cases and deaths indicate that this epidemic is far from under control. In just one short week, the number of suspected cholera cases rose by 130% and continues to escalate throughout the country with the case fatality rate averaging 4.8%.

The government of Zimbabwe declared the cholera outbreak a “national emergency,” clearly illustrating the need and urgency to provide support. In the worst-affected areas within the capital city, Harare, and surrounding peri-urban areas, PSI has responded effectively and proactively to the crisis through support from UNICEF and in partnership with a number of NGOs.

Within the first three days of the initial outbreak in Chitungwiza, PSI/Zimbabwe distributed more than 300,000 point-of-use water treatment tablets. Nearly three months later, PSI has scaled up its response and has distributed over 19 million water treatment tablets through more than 500 retail outlets, workplace outreach efforts and NGO partners. About 30,000 employees and 6,500 households per week have been reached to date through tablet distribution efforts and health communications—including door-to-door interpersonal communication and water treatment demonstrations, placement of UNICEF cholera prevention posters at over 4,000 public venues, and hygiene radio spots. PSI/Zimbabwe is scaling up cholera response activities nationwide.

Since 1996, PSI has provided health messages, products and services through programs committed to serving the people of Zimbabwe. PSI/Zimbabwe has a strong working relationship with the Zimbabwe Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, in-country technical expertise in hygiene promotion communications and safe water, and established relationships with other NGOs to immediately respond to needs in Zimbabwe with a staff of over 250.

In order to further prevent cholera cases and reduce unnecessary suffering and death, PSI must continue to scale up its response. Support is urgently needed to provide water treatment products and to promote hygiene and proper management of diarrhea cases.

Please help PSI respond to the needs of people in Zimbabwe. Donate to the relief efforts.

For just one penny, a water treatment tablet treats 20 liters of water, sufficient for the daily needs of an average family of four to six people. This holiday season, as we struggle with a fragile economy, let us remember those who face the loss of loved ones and dignity around the world. Join PSI in spreading comfort and joy to those in Zimbabwe — give the gift of hope through a simple donation.

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