Cholera: SA will help

2008-11-26 00:00

Cape Town — The government will not prevent Zimbabweans suffering from cholera from entering South Africa’s borders, Health Minister Barbara Hogan vowed yesterday.

Briefing the media on the government’s response to Zimbabwe’s cholera crisis, Hogan pledged that South Africa will help in “any way” — including financially — with the crisis that has emerged since cholera broke out in Zimbabwe last month.

Accompanied by the World Health Organisation representative in South Africa, Dr Stella Anyangwe, Hogan said a total of 8 887 cases of cholera have been reported to date, with 366 deaths and an average case fatality rate of 4,12%. She said the highest incidence of the illness is in Harare, followed by Beit Bridge. She said the government is not considering the outbreak a crisis in South Africa.

“The position of the South African government is that we are facing a humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe —and under no conditions would we want to stop the entry of any person who is ill, from Zimbabwe to South Africa,” Hogan said.

“The situation is dire there and we do not even consider these people illegals, which is why the department of Home Affairs is part of our task team to assist with passage. We cannot look at people who are suffering enormously and say they are illegals. These are people who need our help … They are our neighbours and we want to assist in any way.”

Hogan said the government is aware of the complications that can arise from ill people crossing the borders, but said that danger does not override the government’s commitment to provide assistance.

Hogan said the Health Department has deployed the national outbreak response team and the provincial outbreak response team in Musina to respond to the outbreak, while a national multi-sectoral committee has been convened to deal with the outbreak.

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