Medical professionals from Israel’s Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan have arrived in Zambia to begin treating and diagnosing cholera victims amid a deadly outbreak of the disease. Sheba said Israel was the first country to send a medical team to the affected area.
Since the epidemic broke out in October, cholera has killed 70 people countrywide, including 67 in the capital, Zambia’s Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya said in a briefing. More than 2,500 are said to have been infected with the disease, which in some cases can kill within hours if not treated.
An evaluation by the Israeli delegation, consisting of several physicians and nurses, a lab technician and a water engineer, pointed the Zambian government to contaminated water wells in a neighborhood in the capital city, Lusaka.
To control the spread of the disease, the main market, schools and churches in Lusaka have been closed and a curfew imposed by the government. Riots have broken out in the Lusaka district in response to these emergency measures, leading to the arrest of 55 residents, the government said on Friday.
“Closing down the market is causing a major economic problem, both on the macro level and definitely [on the micro level]. Farmers cannot market their produce, the traders in the market are basically unemployed,” said Dr. Elhanan Bar-On, director of Sheba’s Israel Center for Disaster Medicine and Humanitarian Response.
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has visited Africa three times in the last year and half, where he met with leaders of 10 countries including Zambia.