Up to 10,000 Zimbabwe cholera deaths possible by March

Johannesburg – Aid organizations in Zimbabwe fear that as many as 10,000 cholera deaths and 60,000 infections could strike the country by March 2009, South African media reported Sunday.

So far, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) around 10,000 people are infected and 412 have died from the disease.

The number of cholera victims however remains imprecise as many families can no longer register their deceased relatives, according to reports from several newspapers in neighbouring South Africa.

The government of Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has been attempting to cover up the extent of the cholera epidemic, the reports continued.

Aid organizations such as Medecins sans Frontieres, Germany’s Welthungerhilfe and the WHO have been the only parties – in light of the complete collapse of public services in Zimbabwe – to provide the aid to the cholera victims.

With hospitals closed in Zimbabwe and supplies of clean drinking water insufficient, the cholera epidemic has already crossed over into neighbouring countries such as South Africa, where six cholera deaths have been reported.

The news reports warn of a humanitarian crisis in southern Africa with the start of summer rains next year amid the ongoing deterioration of Zimbabwe’s health system.