HARARE, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) -- The Zimbabwean government has acquired 500,000 doses of cholera vaccines that it will start administering on vulnerable groups in the coming week, Health and Child Care Deputy Minister John Mangwiro has said.
At least 49 people have died from cholera, mainly in Harare, over the past three weeks, with the city's southwestern suburbs having been identified as the epicenter of the outbreak.
"We received 500,000 doses of the cholera vaccine yesterday (Wednesday) and preparations are at an advanced stage to initiate vaccination in the next week," the latest issue of Herald newspaper quoted him saying on Thursday.
Mangwiro was speaking at a handover ceremony of donations by Stanbic Bank and the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe to fight the cholera outbreak.
He said all provinces and city health departments are on high alert and have activated their rapid response teams to deal with any outbreak.
"We hope we will be able to mobilize more vaccines before the end of the year to reach a larger part of the vulnerable populations," he said.
In a ministerial statement presented in Parliament Wednesday, Minister of Health and Child Care Obadiah Moyo said the death toll from the outbreak had risen to 49, with over 10,000 people being screened for the disease.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has also said that a multi-drug resistant cholera strain is in circulation and emphasized re-hydration for treatment, with antibiotics used in mild to severe cases.
The WHO said a mass vaccination campaign is planned in Harare city and surrounding areas, Chitungwiza and Epworth, to stop further spreading of the disease, but the major challenge in containing the outbreak is the lack of adequate water supply in affected areas.
"Supply of safe water remains a challenge. Municipal water supply is sometimes interrupted during sewer repair, and communities spend hours without clean water tanks in place to supply residents," it said.