Mozambique floods: Cholera fears amid depleting stocks

تم النشر: 15 فبراير 2012 16:03 CET

Tapiwa Gomo, Quelimane, Mozambique

Following the cyclone and floods that ravaged Quelimane town and its outskirts, health officials have raised concern over the possibilities of cholera, malaria and diarrhoeal outbreak.

Tropical Cyclone Funso swept across the coastal areas of Zambezia province leaving trail of destruction to property and crops. Thousands of people were left homeless among them elderly, child-headed families and the sick.

For the local health authorities in Quelimane, it is the destruction of water and sanitation facilities and puddles of water scattered around the affected communities which are of major concern.

“There is a high possibility of an outbreak of cholera, malaria and diarrhoea in the affected communities due to the absence of sanitation facilities and proper hygiene conditions in some areas,” says Dr. Alberto Joao Baptista, the Director of Health for Zambezia province. “So far we have not witnessed an increase of cholera and malaria except for diarrhoeal cases in Nhasunje, Quelimane and Gurue in Lioma.”

A trip to Issidua, a small location approximately ten kilometres outside Quelimane town tells a story of a simmering health time bomb.  The majority of the families do not have proper toilets. The few that existed before the cyclone collapsed under the pressure Funso. The bush system has become common practice and water puddles all over the place. There is every reason to be worried.

“If anyone is willing to help us, the first thing we need are toilets,” appealed Ms. Mantinha Macete, the community secretary. “The lack of sanitation facilities is worrying us. There are no toilets in this community and our children are now suffering from diarrhoea.”

Piped water supply is regulated from 06:00 to 09:00, 12:00 to 14:00 and finally 16:00 to 18:00. This pushes many to the nearby Rio dos Bons Sinais River which cuts across the Issidua community and a busy Issidua fish market.

For the fishermen and fish traders, business has to go one even in the fetid conditions, survival is now priority. While a long term solution is needed to contain the situation, the regional health director, who is also a provincial chairperson for Mozambique Red Cross sees an urgent need for hygiene promotion in the community and water purification mechanisms.

“We are planning to deploy our volunteers to carry out social mobilisation in the area in addition to distributing water purification sachets. The sooner we get more assistance the faster we can manage the situation,” Mr. Simon Bonate, the Mozambique Red Cross Society provincial secretary.
To support the Mozambique Red Cross Society, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Cross Societies (IFRC) released a Disaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF) of CHF297,349 to support their response efforts. But owing to the increasing needs, the Federation is preparing to launch an appeal to assist 10,000 families in need of shelter, food, mosquito nets and clean water. A team has been deployed to carry out detailed needs assessments and to support Mozambique Red Cross Society in their emergency operations.