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Establishment of Cholera command and control center (C4) in Zimbabwe


A major cholera outbreak is currently raging in Zimbabwe. This outbreak started in 2008 and of December 18 2008, 20,896 cases and 1,123 deaths have been reported from nine of the ten provinces in the country. The epidemic is yet to be broughht under control. The prevailing socio economic situation in Zimbabwe has resulted in drastic detoriation of te health care infrastructure and a nationwide weakening of the capacity to deliver health services. The current outbreak which is due to a lak of safe drinking water and inadequate sanitation has further strained the already weakened health system. In addition, the epidemic has taken on a regional dimension with the spread to some of the neighbouring countries.

WHO, other development partners and NGOs are contributing towards the response to this epidemic through an established Health Cluster. All levels of WHO have been involved in the response and have supported the coordination of the cholera response, by providing technical support, advocacy and resource mobilization. The major coordination mechanism for resource mobilization has been through the Humanitarian Cluster Approach in the areas of health, water and sanitation, and logistics. In order to ensure effective results and impact, it is essential to strengthen the capacity of the Health sector, to implement the already agreed Cholera Preperedness and Response Operation Plan the contains the essential elents of the response to the epidemic.

The current response is characterized by multiple inputs and mechanisms from different agencies the need to be streamlined and optimized. There is an immediate need to boost the implementation of the cholera Preparedness and Response Operation Plan, while developing a more comprehensive Health Emergency Plan to address other pressing health needs. It is important to emphasize that the priority is to address the adequate response to the cholera outbreak and prevent a major humaniterian crisis. In order to address this priority the international health partners have expressed willingness and are already providing support to the people and government of Zimbabwe.

The establishment and operationalization of the C4 has been discussed and agreed between the World Health Organization and the government of Zimbabwe at a senior policy level as a way of facilitating the scaling up of ongoing interventions to fight cholera. The establishmnet of C4 will be Complemented by the setting up of Operational Support Teams (OSTs) in Harare for the Northern region and Bulawayo for the Southern Region. each OST will expand its activities in support of the national health institutions and services within provinces and districts.