Cholera drugs in short supply

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AS the country battles to contain the cholera epidemic that has claimed more than 33 lives, it has emerged that there is a drug resistant strain.

This has forced Government to abandon some drugs and engage a second line of treatment.

“Cholera has become resistant to first line antibiotics including doxycycline, ciprofloxacin and tetracycline. This is problematic because we have to use the second line of drugs which are currently in limited supply,” said Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo.

So far only one drug can deal with the epidemic. However, it is in short supply.

“We got a donor who gave us some azithromycin. However, our stocks are limited and it’s not adequate. It is in very short supply but we have made orders and hope for it to be delivered before we run out,” said the Minister.

At least 6 573 cases of suspected cholera had been reported as of Tuesday. The death toll remained at 33. Amina Mohammed, the deputy chief of the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), said patients were not responding to the drugs typically used to combat the disease. She said doctors were now using second and third-line drugs, which she said Unicef was importing.

“This is an outbreak, at the beginning it is not easy to bring everyone together. But I think we have all rallied behind and are improving. I think we are stabilising. I am happy about that. It could be better but we are happy that there is co-ordination by the Ministry of Health, together with the WHO, ourselves, MSF is doing a great job managing these cases,” said Mohammed referring to the World Health Organisation and Doctors Without Borders, known by its French acronym MSF.

The outbreak can be contained if people follow basic hygiene practices at home.