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Red Cross deploys more teams to fight cholera in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwians bury their dead yet again.
by Staff Writers
Johannesburg (AFP) Dec 31, 2008
The Red Cross has deployed seven emergency teams normally reserved for major global disasters to fight Zimbabwe's worsening cholera epidemic, it said in a statement Wednesday.

The emergency response units have been used in the past for major earthquakes and the Indian Ocean tsunami, but over the last week seven of the teams have been sent by Red Cross societies from Britain, Finland, Japan and other countries, it said.

They aim to help 1.5 million people in Zimbabwe, where more than 1,500 people have died of cholera since August and nearly 30,000 have been infected, the statement added.

"Cholera is a preventable and treatable disease: no one should die from it," said Tammam Aloudat, an emergency health senior officer with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Geneva.

"Currently, the proportion of people who get cholera and die as a result is higher than five percent. To say that cholera is under control, this number should not exceed one percent," he said.

"Even more alarming is that 43 percent of people die before they are able to reach a treatment centre," Aloudat added.

Besides the epidemic, Zimbabweans are also struggling against hyper-inflation, severe food shortages and chronic political instability.

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