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Zimbabwe cholera deaths surpass 4,000

Published: 27th March 2009

For more details of the CMF Zimbabwe Appeal, please contact CMF International Ministries or telephone 020 7234 9660
CMF Zimbabwe Appeal
CMF Zimbabwe Appeal Press Release

Read about the work of our partners on the ground, Celebration Health - Pdf Newsletter


Latest news from Celebration Health:
The epidemic is slowing but the battle is not over.

Jabulani Nyenwa of Celebration Health writes..

" It is true that according to who weekly reports there has been a decline in the cholera cases. However, we have been experiencing a huge problem of under reporting from the cholera treatment camps. Last week the reporting rate was only 54%. Even though the reporting rate improved from 46% during the past 4 weeks, reporting still remains lower than the ideal of 80%. There has been a genuine decline in the cholera incidence but we are not over the hill yet. I think we are probably approaching a plateau. The poor reporting has been caused by challenges with telecommunication and demotivation of health staff among other reasons."

Zimbabwe cholera deaths surpass 4,000: WHO
10th March
The death toll has now surpassed the 4,000 mark (WHO) with reported cases at 89,000. However, the epidemic is showing some signs of slowing down, with the number of new cases averaging 4,000 to 4,500 a week, compared to peaks of nearly 8,000 earlier in the outbreak.
MeD India

'Pray and fast' plea for Zimbabwe
25 February
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has called on Anglicans to 'pray, fast and give' to highlight Zimbabwe's slide toward starvation.
BBC News

CMF sends another £6,000 for cholera treatment
9 February
Thanks to the continuing generosity of donors, CMF has sent a further £6,000 to South Africa to buy another 1,000 IV infusion sets for use by Celebration Health teams in Zimbabwe. The £18,000 sent so far has bought 3,000 sets. As the epidemic shows no sign of abating, we maintain our Appeal.

WHO: Zimbabwe cholera cases pass 65,000 mark
5 February
'The number of cholera cases recorded in Zimbabwe has risen past the 65,000 mark, with more than 3,300 deaths since the outbreak began, latest data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) showed on Wednesday'.
South Africa Mail and Guardian.

Worst case scenario soon to be exceeded

27 January
The World Health Organisation's worst case scenario was that Zimbabwe's cholera outbreak could affect as many as 60,000 people by the end of the rainy season in March. With current recorded cases standing at 53,306 and deaths at 2,872, and rates of new infection running as high as 20% per week or more, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported today that this worst case is likely to be passed by early February.

The number of deaths since August has now exceeded the number who have died from cholera in the entire African continent each year since 2001. The outbreak is continuing to spread beyond Zimbabwe's borders, with eight other southern African countries reporting cases: Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, and Zambia.

Meanwhile, CMF Zimbabwe's partner, Celebration Health, has been fielding about 20 doctors and 50 nurses for four weeks on a rotational basis to provide treatment services at Chinengundu clinic in Chegutu. Prior to their arrival over 300 cases had been admitted and 80 deaths recorded within a week, with at least 10 deaths occurring daily. Within 24 hours of the team's arrival the daily death rate dropped to one!

Celebration Health are also running cholera clinics at Kadoma and Chipping, at Budiriro and Beatrice Road hospitals in Harare, and are doing a needs assessment at Sanyati. Their ability to deploy teams immediately upon news of an outbreak has been key, as most cholera fatalities and cross infections occur in the first few days through lack of treatment and preventive education. Most organisations take a few days to be mobilised but God has enabled them to dispatch teams within hours of a report.

This response capability needs to be enhanced. Please continue to pray and give.

CMF sends a further £6,000

On 17 January WHO reported a cumulative case total from the Zimbabwe cholera epidemic of 44,272, having added 650 cases and 45 deaths for that day. Cumulative deaths were 2,332.

On 22 January the BBC reported that more than 2,700 people have now died, a 20% rise in a week. All these figures are likely to be underestimates.

CMF has responded by sending another £6,000 from our Appeal. This is being used to purchase IV fluids and giving sets for treatments by volunteers and linked with CMF Zimbabwe. Lives are beign saved dramatically every day, and as the epidemic continues relentlessly our appeal is still open.

Zimbabwe cholera surges as neighbours report rising cases
15 January
'Zimbabwe's cholera outbreak has killed more than 2 100 people, it was reported on Wednesday, as neighbouring countries sounded the alarm over rising infections of the treatable, water-borne disease ... 1 642 new cases were added on a single day.'
South Africa Mail and Guardian.

WHO issues devastating cholera stats
15 January
'The World Health Organisation has revealed that Zimbabwe's cholera death toll has passed the 2 000 mark. However, the WHO has indicated the official figure could be exponentially higher.'
Eye Witness News

Update from 'Operation Outstretched Hand'


6 January 2009

On 29 December Dr Andrew Reid described how CMF Zimbabwe's 'Operation Outstretched Hand' was developing:

'Celebration Health now has two cholera treatment centres – Kadoma CTC was planted by Dr Kuda and team at 2am Christmas morning as a team of us responded to a cry for help! A third CTC in Mutare may be birthed…

Cholera is breaking out all over Zimbabwe – rescue teams will be needed to go all over the country. At present Celebration Health and MSF are the only stakeholders in CTCs actually implementing treatment and care. All other stakeholders provide logistics and equipment but not treatment and care. Celebration Health has a vast pool of [registered] volunteer doctors and nurses.

The testimonies coming out are great. Dr Stella showed me one 16 month old baby who was comatose and almost dead. She gave 500mls IV fluid and the baby resurrected much to her mum and everyone's delight. She also had a 15 year old boy who again was comatose and dying and he resurrected with IV fluids.'

These dramatic recoveries from near-death are providing many spiritual opportunities. As the epidemic spreads and the response on-the-ground becomes more organised, all money donated continues to purchase supplies.

Zimbabwe child malnutrition rises
Dec 27
Acute child malnutrition in parts of Zimbabwe has increased by almost two-thirds compared with last year, aid agency Save the Children says
BBC News

Update re. CMF Zimbabwe
Dec 23

Dr Andrew Reid of CMF Zimbabwe wrote on 18 December that they now have three teams of six doctors and twelve nurses, each working 36 hours per three days. At the Chegutu cholera treatment site their partners are MSF, UNICEF, and IOM.

He tells of 'a witchdoctor who had cholera at Chegutu and gave his life to Christ with tears of repentance as he was deeply touched by the love of God displayed by the Celebration Health team'.

From their world office in South Africa, ICMDA have sent their first consignment to Celebration Health: 2000 litres of Ringer's Lactate, 1000 adult and 1000 paediatric giving sets, 500 cannulae with wings, 200 paediatric butterfly scalp vein sets, 100 pairs of surgical gloves, 10 boxes of disposable gloves, and 30 rolls of strapping.

Further supplies will soon be on their way as on 22 December CMF transferred £6,000 to ICMDA for buying and transporting more. Meanwhile CMF's Appeal has attracted considerable coverage in the Christian press and elsewhere, and money given will be transferred with any Gift Aid as quickly as possible.

Charity warns on Zimbabwe cholera
Dec 21
'The international medical charity, Medecins Sans Frontieres, predicts that the cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe will last well into 2009.'
BBC News

Zimbabwe cholera outbreak widens
Dec 18
'The cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe continues to spread and has now claimed 1,111 lives among 20,581 cases since August, says the UN.'
BBC News

Cholera lays bare Zimbabwe's collapse
No one shakes hands anymore in Zimbabwe, such is the fear of contracting cholera.
Dec 17
BBC News

CMF teams in Zimbabwe saving lives

Dec 16

We have just received reports of how CMF Zimbabwe teams last weekend responded to an urgent cry for help from the Ministry of Health. Huge numbers of patients were flooding in to one clinic – 250 came in one night like a tidal wave and overwhelmed the three sisters on duty. They saw huge mortality. That outbreak was caused by sewerage being sucked into the water supply because of low water pressure and vandalised pipes.

The first team to arrive consisted of six young doctors and nine young nurses. They were met by horrific sights and smells – the smell of decaying bodies, cholera stool, and chlorine all mixed together. They gave 1200 litres of fluid in seven hours to the 150-200 patients and saw mortality come down from 15 people a day to one per day.

'We saved 20 lives immediately. We had doctors putting in cannulas, stooping down knee deep in cholera stool, and nurses racing around putting up Ringer's Lactate. We saw miracles before our eyes – one lady was lying in her profuse diarrhoea and dying: sunken eyes, almost comatose, her skin stood up when you picked it up. We lifted her onto a cholera cot and the young doctors banged in two cannulas (one a jugular) and then the nurses hit her with litres of fluid and then she rose from the dead: she regained consciousness and her skin turgor was normal and she lived!'

'Many people's faces changed – they were dehydrated and frightened, but as we worked on them their faces became less dehydrated and they started to gain peace and reassurance. As they became well people began to have faces with thanksgiving written on them, faces of “thank you for saving my life”.'

On the first night many felt overwhelmed. There was chaos everywhere but leaders established a clear plan of action. The team implemented that plan and overnight saw the mortality drop – there were no deaths that night. The team went from being overwhelmed to feeling victors. Lives had clearly been saved and order was coming out of chaos.

Teams of six doctors and 12 nurses will now go in for three days at a time as a hit squad, and then another team will come in to replace them. 'We are so proud of our young team. We saw doctors and nurses being proud and satisfied and thrilled to be doctors and nurses, thrilled to be used by God to save lives. They were smiling and beaming and joy was evident. They will never be the same again.'

Surge in Zimbabwe cholera deaths
Dec 15
'The United Nations says 978 people have now been killed by the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe, an increase of 25% from the last figure given three days ago.'
BBC News

Cholera is 'S African disaster'
Dec 11
'South African officials have declared part of their border with Zimbabwe a disaster area amid a cholera outbreak.'
BBC News

Zimbabwe's cholera death toll rises
Dec 10
'The United Nations says the number of deaths from the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe has risen to 774. '
BBC News

Zimbabwe cholera epidemic could hit 60,000
Times Online

Zimbabwe cholera cases rise
Dec 8
BBC News

PM urges Zimbabwe cholera action
Dec 6
'Gordon Brown has urged the world to tell Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe "enough is enough" amid growing concern over the country's cholera outbreak.'
BBC News

Cholera spreads across Zimbabwe
Dec 4, 2008
Interviews from BBC world service

CMF launches Zimbabwe Appeal

December 2008

Through the media, and particularly through ICMDA, we know of the enormous problems doctors and nurses are facing in Zimbabwe. The latest of these is a countrywide outbreak of cholera caused by the failure to maintain the sewerage and water systems in many cities and towns. For the latest news on the situation in Zimbabwe, please click here.

Most hospitals are closed and medical and nursing staff cannot afford to get to work because their salaries no longer cover bus and taxi fares. At health facilities there is no money for even the most basic medical supplies. As a result, a manageable, treatable and preventable condition is causing severe illness and killing thousands. Meanwhile Robert Mugabe has said that cholera does not exist in Zimbabwe.

CMF Zimbabwe's response

Doctors from CMF Zimbabwe are running a service in Harare to treat those infected in conjunction with a local church. The medical school is closed, so a group of CMF medical students is working with them, but they lack basic supplies of IV fluids, giving sets, even soap. This doctor reports a mortality rate of 7% - he says that with proper treatment he would expect this to be 1%. He writes:

"The Pastor went to two cholera camps two days ago and found babies and children falling out of rubbish bags as there was no one to collect the bodies. He walked through cholera-riden diarrhoea and vomit on the floor. He looked into the eyes of dying people. He saw one mother on a drip with two children, one on each arm, also with drips. He had seen many sights before but this was the worst he had ever seen.

We need Ringer's lactate, tiny paediatric cannulas, adult cannula giving sets, strapping cotton wool, gloves, gowns, hypochlorite aqua tabs, soap, etc."

Pray and ACT now. Zimbabwe is bleeding!

CMF Zimbabwe Appeal

ICMDA has launched an appeal to assist CMF Zimbabwe in their response to the cholera epidemic. Money raised will be used to buy IV fluids, essential drugs and equipment needed to treat cholera victims. Supplies will be sourced in South Africa and given directly to CMF Zimbabwe staff on the ground.

Their message:" Give us the resources and we can make the difference in saving lives and relieving suffering."

IV kits (including Intravenous Fluid (IV), IV Line, Drip Needles and Gloves) cost approximately £6 per patient (50 Rand). £60 will treat ten patients; £600 will treat 100.

According to the response to this appeal, and as the situation unfolds, money may be used in the future to assist with wider health needs and to support the re-establishment of medical training in Zimbabwe. We will keep you updated via this website.

CMF UK is collecting money for this appeal which will all be passed directly, including Gift Aid recovered, to those doing the work.


For further information:

Steven Fouch (CMF Head of Communications) 020 7234 9668

Media Enquiries:

Alistair Thompson on 07970 162 225

About CMF:

Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF) was founded in 1949 and is an interdenominational organisation with over 5,000 doctors, 900medical and nursing students and 300 nurses and midwives as members in all branches of medicine, nursing and midwifery. A registered charity, it is linked to over 100 similar bodies in other countries throughout the world.

CMF exists to unite Christian healthcare professionals to pursue the highest ethical standards in Christian and professional life and to increase faith in Christ and acceptance of his ethical teaching.

Christian Medical Fellowship:
uniting & equipping Christian doctors & nurses
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