Nearly one month ago, on March 14, Cyclone Idai hit Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe with 125 miles per hour winds, killing more than 1,000 people and leaving another 3 million in desperate need of help. Huge waves tore apart power poles, trees and rooftops. In some regions of Mozambique, standing water levels of more than 26 feet remained until a few days ago. As the water recedes, a number of deadly risks are appearing. Children swim in big puddles of water and women are washing their sanitary pads in contaminated water because they have no other choice. Cholera has become a daily threat. There are now 3,577 reported cases of cholera in Mozambique. The number of people showing possible symptoms of cholera has increased rapidly within the last few days.
reported cases of cholera
Six people have already died of cholera in Mozambique. The government started a vaccination campaign at the beginning of April. Within a few days, this campaign reached around 600,000 people. There are 11 cholera treatment centers where thousands of people are currently receiving medical aid. The good news is cholera is treatable and curable. But until now not all people in the affected areas could be reached with vaccinations. And many of them simply don’t know how to protect themselves from an infection.
Aid organizations like CARE are working to change that. The CARE emergency team has already provided more than 19,000 people in Mozambique with clean drinking water and hygiene products such as soap and sanitary pads.
Nevertheless, the risk of infection remains high. The disease spreads rapidly – and aid workers are also at risk. The United Nations and humanitarian organizations for now have turned the waiting hall of Beira airport into an operation room. A bottle of disinfectant sits on every desk. We are only allowed to drink bottled water, must wash our hands regularly and change bed sheets and towels as often as possible. No one here is completely safe, especially the 160,000 people who have been living in emergency shelters for weeks and depend on our assistance.