In February, MSF released the report “Beyond Cholera: Zimbabwe’s Worsening Crisis” to draw attention to the humanitarian crisis ravaging Zimbabwe, most visibly expressed by the unprecedented cholera outbreak, which claimed thousands of lives. Now, six months later, the cholera has died down and the new unity government has been in charge for half a year. What has changed? MSF’s head of mission in Zimbabwe, Rian van de Braak, answered questions about the current situation.
In July, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) began an intervention in Kwekwe prison in Zimbabwe’s central Midlands Province. The intervention focuses on providing basic health care and therapeutic feeding to the inmates, many of whom are severely malnourished.
Despite the fact that many Zimbabweans risk their lives to flee Zimbabwe, the South African government has historically characterized them as ‘voluntary economic migrants’ and aggressively deported them. Until recently, approximately 17,000 Zimbabweans were deported each month by South African authorities, according to United Nations and South African Department of Home Affairs figures.
MSF has treated nearly 56,000 patients for cholera since the outbreak began in August 2008. The cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe is still far from being over, and MSF is finding increasing numbers of cholera patients in Harare for the third week in a row.