The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Eastern Africa said cholera outbreaks in the region in the past year have been remarkable in both their tendency to reappear soon after they are put down, and in their ability to affect vast geographical areas.
“As of Jan. 21, over 42,000 cholera cases and more than 550 related deaths had been reported in the region,” it said, noting that the preventable disease is affecting Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
OCHA said in its latest report that the situation in Tanzania is of particular concern where the disease has spread in 21 of the country’s 30 regions, including the islands of Pemba and Unguja in Zanzibar since the start of the outbreak in May 2015.
Cholera is an acute diarrheal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae.
Generally the cholera bacteria spreads in places with poor hygiene, where people do not use latrines to dispose off excreta, or do not wash their hands with soap or ash after defecation.
According to WHO, the main causes of cholera are lack of clean water and inadequate sanitation conditions and facilities.
The UN World Health Organisation (WHO) said it has also intensified country support to the cholera outbreak in Malawi and Mozambique.
Cross border meetings are being facilitated across the two countries to agree on a common approach to prevent the outbreak from spreading further. Enditem