The Scottish Government is to give £500,000 to help fight a “severe and rapidly growing” cholera epidemic in Zambia, international development minister Christina McKelvie has announced.
The money is being donated following an emergency appeal by the International Red Cross, and will help to pay for vaccinations, contact tracing and supplies of safe drinking water.
It comes after Zambia reported 14,900 confirmed cases of the disease by January 27, with 560 deaths recorded.
With all 10 of Zambia’s provinces affected, the outbreak has put a strain on local health services, while schools throughout the country have been closed in a bid to prevent the disease from spreading.
Ms McKelvie said: “The next few weeks will be crucial to prevent this severe and rapidly growing cholera epidemic from escalating further.”
Ahead of Zambia’s rainy season, she said the majority of “vulnerable communities” have no access to clean water and sanitation facilities, which are essential to prevent the spread of cholera.
The funding from the Scottish Government represents its “ongoing commitment to ensure Scotland fulfils its role as a good global citizen through international development and humanitarian work, as well as our longstanding partnership with Zambia”, the minister said.
Rob Murray, Scotland director for the British Red Cross, said: “Volunteers and staff from the Zambian Red Cross Society are leading the response to the cholera outbreak in the country, alongside the Zambia Ministry of Health, and this funding will help to carry out vital training for volunteers who will be at the forefront of the response in the affected communities.
“Speed is critical in dealing with an outbreak such as this, therefore we are extremely grateful for the swift response and leadership the Scottish Government has shown in providing these funds.”