Cholera Outbreaks Prompt Church of God Response in Haiti, Zambia and Zimbabwe
By Carl Stagner
First identified in 1854, one dangerous disease has made a dramatic resurgence in recent months in three countries where the Church of God has a vibrant presence. Cases of cholera rose dramatically by November across the country of Haiti, while diagnoses in Zambia and Zimbabwe beginning last year reached critical levels by the dawn of 2024. Known for producing symptoms of deadly dehydration in hosts, cholera continues to spread across these three countries, in particular, traced back consistently to contaminated sources of water. In view of these disasters, which were afforded scant media coverage, the Church of God in the United States and Canada is partnering with Church of God leaders in Haiti, Zambia, and Zimbabwe to respond swiftly and decisively.
With an already unsafe sociopolitical landscape, the addition of Cholera last year certainly exacerbated existing poor living conditions in Haiti. Though the staff of the Church of God hospital in St. Ard helped as many people as possible, a reported overflow of patients relegated much of the medical treatment of cholera patients to chairs and benches scattered across hospital property. According to a Disaster Relief report on the situation in Haiti, “Left untreated, cholera threatens death; with treatment, the mortality rate drops to less than 1 percent. To continue providing life-saving treatment through the St. Ard Hospital, financial assistance [was] needed to purchase IV fluids, medications, and the compensation of additional staff.”
In Zambia and Zimbabwe, cyclical patterns of drought and flooding are credited with conditions contributing to recurring outbreaks of cholera. Also, amid a notable increase in the prevalence of human conflict and weather-related catastrophes on a global scale, the demand for cholera vaccines has surpassed global supply. Furthermore, the risk of cholera contraction skyrockets among those without access to clean drinking water and sanitation.
“Our Church of God family in Zambia and Zimbabwe is affected by the cholera outbreak and is leading a response,” according to a Disaster Relief report. “Rev. Mailesi Ndao and Rev. Dzingai Guni (Church of God national leaders of Zambia and Zimbabwe, respectively) are organizing widespread relief efforts. Immediate relief funds will be used to provide clean water, soap, gloves, sanitizers, chlorine tablets, and other critical medical supplies. Long-term recovery and resiliency projects will walk alongside these communities in installing latrines and clean water wells to reduce the risk of future waterborne illnesses.”
Public gatherings are prohibited in many locations due to the spread of cholera, especially in Zambia and Zimbabwe. Many churches have been unable to meet, and the loss of lives is leading to heightened grief and anxiety. The operation of schools is also in jeopardy. Mitigation of immediate problems is the initial approach outlined by the Church of God on the ground in these countries, soon followed by both restoration and investment in infrastructure to encourage prevention. Dollars donated by the Church of God movement go a long way in readying Church of God Ministries to respond when disaster strikes.
Similarly, ongoing disasters, like devastating wildfires in Chile and persistent humanitarian crises in the Democratic Republic of Congo, are met with prompt and substantive response through the Church of God because of the generous provision of the Movement. Though such disasters don’t always top the headlines, rest assured your Disaster Relief team is monitoring the globe for opportunities to send help and hope.
Church of God Ministries is only able to respond swiftly when disaster strikes because it maintains a disaster relief fund. In crises where an immediate response is critical for relief, Church of God Ministries advances funds in anticipation of a gracious outpouring of donations from churches and individuals. One hundred percent of Disaster Relief contributions are utilized to bring relief to those affected by disasters worldwide. Donate today!
Interested in specific projects of the Church of God where the latest disasters are wreaking havoc? The St. Ard Hospital Project (42.30301) and the Zimbabwe Water and Wellbeing Project (42.30362) are worth your investment. Thank you!
Feature (top) photo: Village in rural Zambia; the region suffers cycles of drought and flood, resulting in conditions favorable to cholera outbreaks.