Maputo - Officials in Mozambique say the death toll from cholera after Cyclone Freddy has doubled in the last week to 16 and they fear it will continue to jump as thousands of displaced are living in overcrowded shelters. The U.N Children's Fund, UNICEF, says nearly 10,000 cholera cases have been reported in Mozambique - more than tripling since early February.
The health director in Mozambique's Zambezia province, the area worst hit by the cyclone, told state run Radio Mozambique Monday night they are scrambling to cope with the rising numbers of cholera patients.
Blaiton Caetano said nearly 200 patients were being treated for the bacterial disease in the provincial capital, Quelimane, where 50,000 people are crowded into temporary shelters.
He said they have recruited and hired 116 health technicians, including doctors, nurses, service agents and drivers, to cope with the demand in Quelimane city. Caetano said they are working with two cholera treatment centers and are preparing to open a third.
In a media statement Monday, the U.N Children's Fund, UNICEF, said millions of children were at risk in the aftermath of the record cyclone.
Cyclone Freddy killed hundreds in Madagascar, Malawi, and Mozambique since first making landfall in February, and displaced hundreds of thousands.
Cyclone Freddy Kills More Than 350 in Southeastern Africa
Malawi was already suffering a record cholera outbreak, with nearly 1,700 deaths in the past year from the diarrheal disease spread by dirty water - most of them children.
UNICEF's statement notes that Mozambique has 2 million people in need of food and other aid in the country's northern region.
UNICEF said the situation for children is set to worsen if aid doesn't arrive quickly, saying malnutrition increases the risk from diseases like cholera.
It said as of March 18, there were nearly 10,000 cholera cases reported in 35 districts in Mozambique, more than tripling since early February.
UNICEF head of office in Zambezia province Michael Chimedza told Radio Mozambique Tuesday they provided 10,000 water purification bottles and nearly 5,000 hygiene kits.
He said they will increase these numbers even more with the trucks (of supplies) that are arriving in a few days. Chimedza said they made this delivery now to support the government response and to try to stop the cholera outbreak.
UNICEF is calling for $155 million to respond to the impacts of the flooding and cholera on children and families.
Cyclone Freddy made landfall twice in Mozambique and is believed to be the longest lasting such tropical storm to hit southern Africa in decades.