Navigating Mental Health Challenges Amid a Cholera Outbreak in Zambia | StrongMinds

Navigating Mental Health Challenges Amid a Cholera Outbreak in Zambia

Since October 2023, Zambia has been grappling with a major cholera outbreak that has taken the lives of more than 500 people and infected more than 13,000, leading the government to close down schools and universities until February 12th, 2024. 

To address the growing need for medical support, a soccer stadium in Lusaka has been converted into a treatment facility and the Zambian government has embarked on a mass vaccination campaign targeting 1.5 million people. 

Adult holding hands in lap with a child.Cholera is an acute bacterial infection caused by dirty water or contaminated food. It causes severe diarrhea and vomiting, leading to rapid dehydration, which can be fatal if not treated quickly. The disease is often linked to poverty and a lack of sufficient access to clean water and it remains a significant global concern. 

To further curb the fast-spreading disease, authorities are also providing 2.4 million liters of clean water per day to affected communities. 

Impacts on Mental Health

Infectious diseases, such as cholera, not only pose a direct threat to physical health but also have significant implications for mental well-being. Coping with the uncertainty associated with infectious diseases can lead to elevated stress, anxiety, and, in many cases, depression. 

Outbreaks like cholera can disrupt daily life, impacting work, school, and overall well-being. Market closures and lockdowns may lead to income loss and heightened stress, while school closures create challenges for students and parents, contributing to stress and isolation. 

As the Zambian government continues to address the outbreak, StrongMinds remains prepared to ramp up services to support the mental burden for members of affected communities. 


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Roger Nokes
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