IGNORE IGNORE! Scaling Up IOM's Cholera Response in Zimbabwe

Date Publish: 
Zimbabwe / Africa and Middle East

Across Zimbabwe, close to 4,000 people have died from cholera in
recent months, mostly in impoverished districts. Tens of thousands
more have been treated for the highly infectious disease spread by
contaminated food and water. Deteriorating sewage systems, poor
access to safe drinking water, a shortage of trained health
personnel, and the large and frequent movement of people have
contributed to the spread of the disease.

"PADDING-RIGHT: 8px; PADDING-LEFT: 10px; FLOAT: right; PADDING-BOTTOM: 10px; MARGIN: 5px; VERTICAL-ALIGN: top; WIDTH: 40%; PADDING-TOP: 10px; BACKGROUND-COLOR: rgb(250,250,250)"> class="paragraph-bold">"Zimbabwe's cholera outbreak is
unprecedented amid a collapsed health system. Considering the
devastating situation on the ground – high prevalence of HIV
and TB, food insecurity, power and water supply breakdown, brain
drain – we urge the international community to increase their
support and help the people of Zimbabwe. Cholera can be easily
prevented and treated."

--Dr. Tete Amouh, Migration
Health Advisor, IOM Zimbabwe

Mobile and vulnerable populations (MVPs), in particular, are at
high risk of contracting cholera since they often move from place
to place and live in overcrowded, informal settlements that have
inadequate water and sanitation facilities.

Also at high risk are the populations in border areas next to
South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia and Botswana, which include
persons passing through the border, migrants returning to Zimbabwe,
and resident populations. The large movement of people in addition
to commercial and trade activities in cross-border areas increases
the chances of cholera transmissions from individuals who may have
been to cholera-affected areas.

IOM's Response

In immediate response to this crisis, and working with UN
agencies and local health authorities, IOM has set up Cholera
Treatment Centres, fielded nurses, and provided treatment centres
and local clinics with drugs, medical supplies, and non-food items
like protective clothing and cleaning materials. IOM has also run
an awareness-raising campaign on cholera.

To ramp up its efforts to contain the outbreak, IOM has focused
on assistance to migrants in border areas, as well as to mobile and
vulnerable populations in Zimbabwe. It has also targeted some
430,000 travellers during the recent festive season
(December-January). Its project "Up-Scaled Cholera Outbreak
Response for Migrants and Mobile and Vulnerable Population
Settings" seeks to prevent the occurrence of large-scale
cholera-related cases and fatalities among these groups.

As an active member of the UN Health and Water, Sanitation and
Hygiene (WASH) clusters coordinated by the World Health
Organization (WHO) and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), IOM has
been designated as the lead agency for cholera response in the
border areas of Manicaland, Mashonaland West and Matabeleland
North. IOM is also working closely with its NGO partners in the
areas of disease surveillance and reporting, case management, food,
water, and health and hygiene promotion.

Key Objective

Support and coordinate the country's cholera response and
preparedness efforts in border areas and provinces of Matabeleland
North, Mashonaland West and Manicaland, placing particular emphasis
on mobile and vulnerable populations and migrants.


  • 250,000 individuals in high-risk communities
  • 150,000 migrants and residents in border areas
  • 430,000 travelers during the recent festive season

Principal IOM Activities

  • Provide safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene services
    for mobile populations and other vulnerable groups.
  • Increase awareness among 830,000 beneficiaries on preventing
    and controlling cholera.
  • Make available emergency supplies (drugs, IV fluids, chlorine
    tablets, antiseptics, laboratory supplies, chemicals and reagents)
    to investigate, monitor and manage cholera cases.
  • Establish a high-quality surveillance system for early
    detecting and effective monitoring of cholera cases
  • Train key health personnel to effectively monitor and manage
    cholera cases.
  • As the lead agency, coordinate cholera-response activities with
    fellow agencies, local authorities and others