(JTA) — Medical professionals from Israel are helping to treat cholera victims in Zambia, which is battling an outbreak of the disease.
A delegation of two physicians and one water engineer from the Sheba Medical Center, Israel’s largest hospital, arrived Friday in the southern African country. Over 60 people in Zambia have died of cholera and more than 2,500 are said to have been infected since September, when the disease started spreading.
The center, which is located in Ramat Gan, said Israel was the first country to send a medical team to Zambia.
In Lusaka, the main market, schools and churches have all been closed to curb the spread of the disease. On Sunday, the government also declared a curfew.
The disease, which causes watery diarrhea and in some cases can lead to severe dehydration in hours, has had a severe impact in the country, Dr. Elhanan Bar-On, director of Sheba’s Israel Center for Disaster Medicine and Humanitarian Response, told JTA from Lusaka on Tuesday.
“Closing down the market is causing a major economic problem, both on the macro level and definitely [on the micro level]. Farmers cannot market their produce, the traders in the market are basically unemployed,” Bar-On said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pushed for closer ties with African countries. The Israeli leader recently made his third visit to the continent in a year and a half, where he met with leaders of 10 countries, including Zambia.