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Cholera death toll in South Africa rises

Staff Reporter

The death toll from a cholera outbreak in SA has risen to 15, with more than 2 100 cases registered, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday.

The death toll from a cholera outbreak in South Africa has risen to 15, with more than 2 100 cases registered, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday.

“The latest figure we have is that cholera has so far claimed 15 lives across the country and we have recorded more than 2 000 cases. Death toll at the end of last month was nine,” Health Ministry spokesperson Fidel Hadebe said.

“Most of deaths were recorded in Limpopo,” he said.

The outbreak of cholera in South Africa cannot be blamed on the Zimbabwe epidemic, said the Department of Health.

Hadebe said there were areas in South Africa that had a history of the disease long before the outbreak in Zimbabwe.

He was responding to comments in the media by some health officials that the disease was brought to South Africa by Zimbabweans.

He said it was inciting violence to blame Zimbabweans for the outbreak in South Africa when the country had a history of cholera in areas where lack of proper sanitation and supply of clean water was a problem.

“Cholera is a water-borne disease and it has a tendency to recur in these areas,” he said.

“In Limpopo for instance, most of the areas affected are those with a history of the outbreak long before the problem began in Zimbabwe,” he said.

“Yes there is that dynamic [whereby some Zimbabweans came into the country and started getting ill], but this is not a new issue in South Africa,” he said.

Zimbabwe’s cholera epidemic has killed more than 2 000 people since August with the number of diagnosed cases reaching almost 40 000, the United Nations said on Wednesday, warning the health crisis is “not under control”.

The United States-based group Physicians for Human Rights called for Zanu-PF leader Robert Mugabe to be charged with crimes against humanity over rights abuses and the collapse of the nation’s health system.

South African health official Frew Benson said Wednesday that poor sanitation and lack of access to clean water was contributing to the spread of the disease in South Africa.

“Not 100% of our people have potable water. Only 89% have access to safe water supply,” he said on public radio.

Cholera deaths have also been recorded in the other countries that share a border with Zimbabwe—Botswana, Mozambique and Zambia. - AFP, Sapa

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