Public Administration Case Study on Cholera Outbreak in Zimbabwe

Cholera Outbreak in Zimbabwe

Few diseases strike fear and dread on a widespread scale like cholera. The disease can annihilate a whole population given a chance. The disease is not only fatal to its victims but also highly communicable. Cholera is an acute intestinal infection caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholera. This organism is common in dirty environments. Ingesting food or water infected by this bacteria causes the development of cholera in the victim. The disease has a brief incubation period ranging from one to five days. The bacterium causes an enterotoxin that leads to severe dehydration of the victim through vomiting and copious watery diarrhea. Any outbreak of the disease is met with a widespread response from both national and international bodies. The outbreak in Zimbabwe was no exception as the World Health Organization (WHO) intervened and intensified its efforts to control and manage the outbreak. This essay seeks to analyze the most recent Cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe.

Summary of the Facts

According to the WHO, the cholera outbreak in Harare Zimbabwe started on 1st September and had intensified by 13th September 2018. On 11th September, the Ministry of Health and Child Care in the country had reported nearly 2000 suspected cases that included 58 confirmed cases and a total of 24 deaths (WHO, 2018). Notably, most of these incidences had been reported in the suburbs of the capital where people had limited access to clean and safe water for consumption and poor sanitation. However, the country has in the past, especially in 2008, suffered from the effects of cholera that claimed more than 4000 lives (WHO, 2018). To limit the impacts brought by the disease, the nation’s health minister stated that the government would implement the global strategy for the cholera outbreak that will drastically reduce its outbreak. Besides, the Zimbabwe government has devised plans to help in improving water and sanitation in the country and assessing the benefits of Oral Cholera Vaccine (OCV) to its population.

Conceptual Framework

The Cholera pandemic in Zimbabwe can be explained through three lenses: the ecological lens, the political lens, and the social lens. As such, the disease outbreak is more complex than thought. Several agencies have cited the lack of clean water and poor sanitation for people living in the suburbs of Harare as the cause. However, there exist other complex factors that promote this outbreak. As such, this section will discuss these theories in-depth. These theories are ecological, political and social. The visual conceptual framework is as shown below.


Ecological Theory

The ecological theory is a model developed to explain how human beings relate to their environment. This approach classifies the environment into an average of five systems that include macrosystem, mesosystem, exosystem, macrosystem, and chronosystem. Notably, it elaborates that understanding human development; one has to consider other important aspects such as the economy, culture, childhood interactions and customs that are vital in shaping how people live and their approach to development. As such, using this theory, one can be able to examine the lifestyle of the people of Zimbabwe, how they interact and any other cultural factor that might be promoting the existence of unhygienic environment.  It requires the understanding of the people interactive methods with the different aspects of the environment that might affect their overall access to clean water.

Political Theory

The political theory involves the study of both the principles and concepts that individuals use to evaluate, describe and explain different political institutions and events. Notably, it links the organization of the people, political history and their interaction with their neighbors with the modern political environment. Historically, Zimbabwe was under political oppression and had one of the weakest economies in Africa. The political regime at the time did not favor economic development thus people had limited or not accesses to clean and safe water.  An unfavorable political environment is a hindrance to different factors including proper education among the youth, limited opportunities to the people and overall oppression.

Social Theory

Social theory is a broad framework that explains different concepts of the community including change and development, social behavior, power and social structure, gender, and ethnicity as well as civilization. Considering the case of Zimbabwe, These factors can help in determining how people perceive the importance of proper and healthy living, maintaining tidy environments and access to quality care. The spread and occasional spreading of cholera in Zimbabwe can primarily be linked with the social structures of the people and poor infrastructure that limit the development of proper drainage systems, especially in the suburbs. Further, since the country has recorded more than 4000 deaths over the last decade means that the government has failed to implement effective prevention strategies to limit the effects of the illness.


Cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe is an occasional hazard that has over the years been promoted with poor economic development and limited access to both lean and safe water. Considering the strategies set by both the Zimbabwe government and the world health organization, the country is heading towards the right direction in fighting the hazard. However, other related factors promoting the spread of the complication including political considerations, poor social structures and limited accesses to proper health care may be additional factors promoting the spread of the disease among the Zimbabwe nationals.





WHO. (2018). WHO is scaling up response to a fast-moving cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe’s capital. Retrieved from