By Mary Taruvinga
The Japanese government through UNICEF on Wednesday pledged a US$774 000 grant to support Zimbabwe in its fight against cholera.
This at a time Zimbabwe is grappling to contain the epidemic after recording over 400 deaths since the outbreak in February last year.
Japanese support is specifically for Manicaland Province which bears one of the highest burdens of cholera.
This comes after the government rolled out oral cholera vaccination in collaboration with the World Health Oganisation and UNICEF.
The Ambassador of Japan to Zimbabwe, Shinichi Yamanaka, said: “I hope that our support will allow the most vulnerable people to recover quickly and rebuild their lives. I also hope it will help prevent the further spread of this disease and future outbreaks”.
UNICEF country representative in Zimbabwe, Tajudeen Oyewale said he is elated with the support.
“We are extremely grateful to the Government of Japan for this support. This support exemplifies the commitment of the Government of Japan to the people of Zimbabwe to address the urgent needs of the affected communities and build resilience in the face of public health emergencies,” he said.
In a statement, UNICEF said the grant will provide a comprehensive range of life-saving support in areas such as access to safe water, provision of critical hygiene materials, healthcare, and nutrition child protection, as well as other essential social services.
Zimbabwe has been grappling with the cholera outbreak since February 2023, recording more than 20,000 cholera cases.
Manicaland and Harare are the hardest hit provinces, and together account for 64% of all cholera cases.
The newly allocated funding is expected to help the Government and its partners to scale-up the multi-sectoral cholera response in affected areas, prioritising improved support and treatment to people.
Since the start of the cholera outbreak, UNICEF has been working with the Ministry of Health and Child Care and partners to support affected communities, by providing emergency health supplies and medical products to establish more than 50 cholera treatment centres and more than 90 community oral rehydration points in affected areas.
UNICEF also provides technical and operational support for the cholera vaccination campaign targeting 2.3 million people in the most affected districts.
It also trained more than 2,200 health workers on case management, surveillance, and infection control in treatment facilities; reaching more than 260,000 people with critical water, sanitation, and hygiene supplies and awareness campaigns.