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SADC battles cholera outbreak

Oleen Ndori, Foreign Desk Editor

SADC member states have been implored to reinforce cholera response mechanisms as the region battles an outbreak of the epidemic.

SADC Health Ministers met over the weekend to assess the cholera situation in the region and identify possible measures to comprehensively prevent and control the disease at a time when five SADC member states are battling the epidemic.

The SADC Council of Ministers also met virtually this Monday with Executive Secretary Mr Elias Magosi underscoring the importance of addressing the underlying drivers of the cholera outbreak at national level.

“We would like to applaud member states for taking steps to contain the cholera situation and for their country-to-country bilateral cooperation to manage cholera cases across our borders. We also wish to thank our cooperating partners, including those that have mentioned previously, the Africa CDC, WHO, UNICEF Welfare Programme and others that have made a firm commitment to continue supporting our efforts towards cholera elimination in the region and elsewhere.

“Their support and expertise during the Ministers of Health meeting have been invaluable and we will continue to benefit from their long years of experience and expertise in the field of public health as we seek to create a healthier and more productive communities that we hope contribute to the development of our region.

“Honourable Ministers, as we look at the measures to address cholera as a public health threat, we must underscore in our view the importance of addressing the underlying drivers of cholera outbreak, particularly the impact of climate change. It is our strong belief that mitigating cholera requires a thorough review of our national climate adaptation plans to ensure the inclusion of robust multi-sectoral strategies that account for climate sensitive health issues,” he said.

Angola Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chairperson of the SADC Council of Ministers, Honourable Tete Antonio, weighed in saying collaborated efforts are needed to end the cholera scourge.

“This scenario claims for a coordinated regional response to face this challenge as no country can fight on its own, a disease such as cholera, which knows no borders. In our session today, we’ll try to take collectives to comprehensive and coordinated action to prevent and control cholera guided by the opinions of our experts of health. We have discussed the measures required to contain the disease.

“Your Excellencies, as a region, you have shown deep resilience before other health challenges such as HIV and AIDS and Covid-19, thanks to our original efforts, we recorded significant progress to prevent and mitigate the impact of these health pandemics. For that reason, there is no doubt that if we put up a united front, we will be able to control the spread of cholera and the generalised spread of any diseases or pandemics that can come our way.

“As guided by our health experts, our region needs to give priorities to the investments in health infrastructure, the promotion and protection of health, so that we can create more healthy communities and unleash human potential for sustainable development,” he said.

Acting Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister, Professor Amon Murwira says Zimbabwe has put in place various initiatives to fight the epidemic, including the national oral cholera vaccine programme which was launched this Monday.

“Zimbabwe has put in place response programmes that aim to reduce the numbers of cholera cases in the country,” he said.

SADC Heads of State and Government will meet virtually on Friday to deliberate on the outbreak and efforts to end the spread of cholera in the region.

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