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A medical treatment tent in Beira, Mozambique. Photo: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images

Cholera has returned in the aftermath of the deadly Cyclone Idai that devastated large swaths of southern Africa on March 15.

Why it matters: Catastrophic events have the potential to reverse health, education and income gains in countries like Mozambique and Malawi, which are among the poorest in the world. Approximately half the population in both countries live below the official poverty lines, and many lack access to safe water and toilets.

Background: If untreated, cholera can be fatal. When clinics and hospitals have been destroyed following natural disasters and people are living in close proximity to each other, early detection and treatment are challenging but critical.

What's happening: 1.8 million are need of urgent assistance, with 128,000 living in shelters at 154 sites across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. At least 750 people are estimated to have been killed, but that number continues to climb as bodies are discovered.

  • Mozambique was already dealing with floods that had displaced 60,000 people — pushing many into crowded shelters — when the cyclone hit, destroying homes, clinics and schools in its path.
  • In Beira, Mozambique's fourth largest city, the primary water treatment facility was severely damaged by the storm. At least 1,052 people have been infected by cholera, and one person has reportedly died from the disease.
  • Other diseases such as typhoid may also break out. Standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes, which transmit malaria.

Where it stands: The WHO has requested $13 million for medical supplies and disaster response in areas cut off by flooding. It has shipped 900,000 doses of cholera vaccine to Mozambique, and a vaccination campaign is set to begin in Beira on April 3.

  • USAID has sent a disaster assessment response team and committed $7.3 million to the region.
  • NGOs such as Save the Children and MSF are also actively engaged in fundraising and support, with the latter operating a hospital to treat cholera patients in Mozambique.

The bottom line: Though the international donor community has begun responding to the crisis, the specter of cholera death raises further alarm. And with such wide devastation, rebuilding will be a long process.

Tanvi Nagpal is the director of the International Development Program at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Go deeper

3 hours ago - World

Report: U.S. calls for UN-led Afghan peace talks

Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the State Department in Washington, D.C., in February. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a letter outlining a plan to accelerate peace talks with the Taliban that the U.S. is "considering" a full troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, Afghan outlet TOLOnews first reported Sunday.

Why it matters: In the letter to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, also obtained by Western news outlets, Blinken expresses concern that the Taliban "could make rapid territorial gain" after an American military withdrawal, even with the continuation of U.S. financial aid, as he urges him to embrace his proposal.

Harry and Meghan accuse British royal family of racism

Photo: Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions via Reuters

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle delivered a devastating indictment of the U.K. royal family in their conversation with Oprah Winfrey: Both said unnamed relatives had expressed concern about what the skin tone of their baby would be. And they accused "the firm" of character assassination and "perpetuating falsehoods."

Why it matters: An institution that thrives on myth now faces harsh reality. The explosive two-hour interview gave an unprecedented, unsparing window into the monarchy: Harry said his father and brother "are trapped," and Markle revealed that the the misery of being a working royal drove her to thoughts of suicide.

Updated 6 hours ago - Axios Twin Cities

In photos: Thousands rally for George Floyd ahead of Derek Chauvin's trial

Demonstrators on March 7 outside the Hennepin County Government Center, where the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, charged with murdering George Floyd, will begin in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Thousands of protesters marched through Minneapolis' streets Sunday, urging justice for George Floyd on the eve of the start of former police officer Derek Chauvin's trial over the 46-year-old's death, per AFP.

The big picture: Chauvin faces charges for second-degree murder and manslaughter over Floyd's death last May, which ignited massive nationwide and global protests against racism and for police reform. His trial is due to start Monday, with jury selection procedures.

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