Date Published: 22 December 2008

UNICEF airlifts cholera and health supplies to Zimbabwe

UNICEF's first ever airlift of critical emergency supplies to Zimbabwe has landed in Harare, as the country grapples with cholera and a collapsing health system.

The cargo ? which includes intravenous (IV) fluids, drip equipment, essential drugs, midwifery and obstetric kits ? will boost UNICEF's cholera response and help the government deliver essential health services to expecting mothers.

?This is a strategic measure to address a desperate situation,” said UNICEF Acting Representative in Zimbabwe, Roeland Monasch. ?We are already supplying 70% of the country's essential drugs and these airlifted supplies will further boost UNICEF's lifesaving support.?

Supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Dutch government, the 140 metric tonne consignment provides intravenous and oral re-hydration supplies which are the first line of treatment in any management of cholera. The supplies also include essential midwifery kits for pregnant women.

"We are pleased to be helping with this effort as part of our US$15m package of support to the cholera epidemic and the wider crisis in the Zimbabwe health service,”said Phil Evans, head of DFID Zimbabwe. ?Saving lives is the most immediate priority but a fundamental solution to the deeper crisis is also needed as a matter of urgency."

More than 1100 people have already died from cholera and nearly 24,000 cases have been reported in Zimbabwe. The situation is worsened by a health crisis characterised by the closure of major hospitals, a critical lack of drugs and equipment, and nurses and doctors not able to come to work. The combined result is the poor management of cholera cases and serious risks to women and children during childbirth.

One more plane load will arrive at midnight later today and supplies will be distributed through the over 40 cholera treatment centres across Zimbabwe and the remaining functional health facilities.

UNICEF continues to intensify relief efforts around the cholera crisis, supplying more than half a million litres of safe drinking water every day, together with 3,800 tonnes of treatment chemicals for all urban areas in Zimbabwe as well as a range of other life saving intervention during the current emergency.


Source: UNICEF Main Website.
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