Scientific letters

Forced migration and health - diarrhoea among adult Zimbabwean immigrants in Limpopo

Thando P Gwetu, Annette A M Gerritsen, Henry A Akinsola


The political and economic decline in Zimbabwe has forced many Zimbabweans to migrate to neighbouring countries and abroad. A large number of Zimbabwean migrants live in poverty in the border region. The high demand for shelter forces some people to create and occupy very basic dwellings and cook food in tin cans over fires. Many live in cardboard and plastic shelters, some in the back yards of overcrowded homes where they have to pay rent. Others sleep under trees next to roads or on open fields on farms, at railway stations or on the street.

Recently many people fled to South Africa from the deadly cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe, which killed more than 2 000 people in 4 months. Cholera outbreaks have been experienced in Zimbabwe since October 2008. People who are infected but have no symptoms can carry the disease and cause it to spread. Initially most of the cholera cases in South Africa were Zimbabweans seeking health care.

We show that the conditions under which informal residents live put them at high risk of diarrhoea.

Authors' affiliations

Thando P Gwetu, University of Venda

Annette A M Gerritsen, Epi Result consultancy, University of Witswatersrand

Henry A Akinsola, University of Venda

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Epidermiology, Diarrhoea, Migration and health

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2011;101(4):246-247.

Article History

Date submitted: 2010-09-04
Date published: 2011-04-04

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