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Cholera Spreading Across Africa

The U.N.’s Children’s Fund expressed alarm this week about a cholera outbreak in Africa that has spread to at least 10 countries, with the situation in Zambia and Zimbabwe “very serious.” Dr. Paul Ngwakum, the regional health adviser for UNICEF in East and Southern Africa, said about 200,000 cases have been reported and more than 3,000 lives taken by the disease. Of the 10 countries he named as having an active outbreak, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Somalia, Zambia and Zimbabwe are in “acute cholera crisis.” “The key drivers are long-term poor water sanitation and hygiene conditions, exacerbated by changing weather patterns, climate change leading to floods and droughts, end-of-year festivities, inadequate community sensitization [and] late care-seeking behavior for those that are affected,” Ngwakum said. UNICEF fears that if the outbreaks are not controlled, it will mean schools closing — as is already the case in Zambia.