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Tuesday 20th March 2018

Aid Arrives as Mozambique Battles Cholera Spread

Lifestyle & Health

7Dnews London

Mon, 01 Apr 2019 12:58 GMT

International aid has begun arriving in the Mozambique port city of Beira as authorities report more than 270 cholera cases.

So far, no deaths have been reported but the rapid spread of the disease is of massive concern to agencies. 

The region was devastated after Cyclone Idai ripped into the area nearly two weeks ago. Since then, more than 500 deaths have been reported in Mozambique, with an additional 259 deaths in Zimbabwe and 56 reported deaths in Malawi. The combined death toll across all three countries has now climbed to 815, but rescuers have warned that more bodies could be found as the flood waters recede. 

Now authorities are facing the grim reality of a cholera outbreak as fresh water supplies and sanitation systems were left wrecked.

To help Mozambique combat the speading disease, the Chinese government has dispatched doctors and aid workers to help local authorities in Beira. The aid workers began spraying anti-cholera disinfectant across parts of the port city on Sunday, March 31st. Beira is home to some 500,000 people.

In addition, the World Health Organisation (WHO) delivered 900,000 cholera vaccines to Mozambique. These vaccines were expected to arrive on April 1st, with a vaccine campaign beginning later in the week. 

"You know we came from China and our government cares very much about the situation in Beira here in Mozambique. And China has a good relationship with Africa, so the China government sent medical doctors to come and give some treatment," said Wang Shenguin, who is the spokesperson for the Chinese doctors.

According to AP, the US military has also joined the international relief efforts in Mozambique by airlifting food and relief supplies from neighbouring South Africa.

US embassy spokesperson, Robert Mearkle, said round-the-clock flights from Durban to Mozambique began on Saturday and continued on Sunday. The items currently being transported, according to Mearkle, come from the World Food Programme's internal stock.

"Separately from these shipments, the United States has provided nearly $3.4 million in additional funding for the World Food Programme to deliver approximately 2,500 metric tons of rice, peas, and vegetable oil to affected people in Sofala, Zambezia, and Manica provinces," said Mearkle. "This life-saving emergency food assistance will support approximately 160,000 people for one month."

So far, the US government has provided some $3.7 million in humanitarian assistance to the people of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi. The US Agency for International Development has also provided more than $6.5 million in assistance. 

Initial reports suggest the current cholera outbreak began last Wednesday when five cases were reported. These cases were later confirmed by the country's national health director, Ussein Isse. Since then, the five cases have multiplied into 271 cases.

Beira's crowded and poor neighbourhoods are particularly at risk from cholera. Children and other patients are forced to lie on bare beds in treatment centres. 

Representatives from Doctors Without Borders said they are seeing up to 200 possible cholera cases every day. Relief workers, meanwhile, are trying their best to restore the city's damaged water system.