South Africa Sets Up Field Hospitals to Contain Cholera Outbreak
The country reported its first cholera death in February, after the virus came from Malawi, where cholera outbreaks happen regularly. On May 21, the South African health ministry declared a cholera outbreak after 19 people with symptoms tested positive.
In a bid to curb and manage the spread of cholera in Hammanskraal township, near South Africa's capital of Pretoria, the provincial Gauteng Health has established field hospitals to handle the growing number
of cholera cases.
As the incidence of infections is rising, the health department in the northern province of Gauteng set up temporary tents to treat local residents with symptoms of dehydration, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Patients exhibiting symptoms of the diarrheal disease are treated through oral or intravenous hydration, while critical patients are transported to hospitals in Tshwane for further management.
"Interventions at health services provision included the creation of Special cholera and gastroenteritis wards [...],the fast-tracking of laboratory results and the setting up of a field hospital/clinic with deployment of additional health personnel," said Joseph Phaahla, Minister of Health for South Africa in the recent updates on cholera outbreak.
The minister added that health outreach teams were deployed to educate communities about cholera and reinforce messages of prevention through basic hand hygiene, as well as water and food safety.
South Africa's health officials are urging residents to report symptoms of diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, stomach cramps and dehydration to nearby health facilities, and to maintain good hygiene.
Last week, the provincial health department reported
that the death toll from the cholera outbreak had risen to 23, with a total of 48 laboratory-confirmed cases. It was also noted that 229 people were hospitalized due to cholera at the Jubilee District Hospital.
The nation reported its worst cholera outbreak in 2008-2009 with about 12,000 cases following an outbreak in neighboring Zimbabwe, which resulted in a surge of imported cases and subsequent local transmission.