Eleven countries in eastern and southern Africa are experiencing an "extremely worrying" cholera outbreak, according to UNICEF. In the past 13 months, around 68,000 cases and almost 1,800 deaths have been registered, Unicef said. However, a much higher number of unreported cases is suspected, as many cases go unreported. The most affected countries are Malawi and Mozambique.
The reason for the far-reaching and protracted outbreak are poor water and sanitation, ongoing conflicts and weak health systems, said Unicef regional director Lieke van de Wiel. In addition, the region has experienced extreme weather events in recent months, which have further worsened the situation.
According to UNICEF, Malawi is still recovering from tropical storms Ana and Gombe, which hit the country a little over a year ago. Cyclone Freddy caused severe devastation and flooding in Mozambique at the beginning of the year. According to weather experts, the cyclone, which has killed 27 people in Mozambique and the neighboring island state of Madagascar since February, is expected to return to Mozambique in a few days.
Cholera is a diarrheal disease caused by bacteria. It can cause severe dehydration and death, particularly in the young, old, or debilitated. People are mostly infected through drinking water contaminated with faeces or vomit from sick people, or through eating contaminated food.