You are here

No one should die from cholera

Yesterday, I met a woman called Erina. She lives in the village of Nzuenga in Zimbabwe. She was discharged from the nearby cholera treatment centre only a week ago.

Remarkable recovery

But she already looks fit, healthy and ready for anything. I can only imagine how much energy she used to have when she was younger. Her remarkable recovery is also due to the fact that cholera is a very easy disease to treat; mostly all that is required is lots of fluid for rehydration. No one should die from cholera.

Many elderly people are getting ill in this area. They are the ones responsible for funeral rituals when family members die, but contact with the deceased and the washing of bodies in the rivers, is one of the primary ways in which cholera spreads. They also complain that boiled water loses its taste and that water treatment tablets leave the water with a funny smell, but they have no alternative ways to make their water safe to drink.

Erina thinks she contracted cholera from the water they draw from the nearby river Murosi. Someone who later developed the symptoms of cholera had been bathing in the river. Their boreholes haven’t functioned for some years. This is a sign of the current degradation of most facilities in this once well-developed and still intensely beautiful country. 

Treating cholera

People with cholera continue to cross into Zimbabwe from Mozambique. There is better access to treatment here than in the remote, mountainous region that is largely inaccessible from the Mozambican side. Children come across for school. Fathers come to barter for food or seek work. Mothers use the river that forms the border to wash their clothes and draw water. It’s no wonder that cholera is continuing to spread back and forth, back and forth…

Erina fixes her failing eyesight on me, and listens intently to my questions in a language she will never understand. People behind me are queuing to receive the buckets, soap and water treatment tablets that are being distributed in an attempt to combat the spread of cholera in this area.

They have been having a lesson on how to use the water treatment tablets and a question and answer session on what they should be doing to better protect themselves. “I’m not worried about my family getting ill now that we have these items and the education,” Erina tells me. “We will follow all we’ve been taught and trust that we stay better, that life can continue without cholera”. 

“My only hope now is for God Almighty to keep us safe”. Amen to that!