Zimbabwe’s ‘national crisis’ over typhoid and cholera

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An acute and growing shortage of medicines in Zimbabwe is worsening the spread of typhoid and cholera throughout the country, aid agencies have warned.

Parliamentarians called on President Robert Mugabe to declare a national health crisis as public health institutions run out of drugs and the number of patients soars at clinics and hospitals.

The Times reports that parliament’s portfolio committee on health heard that budgetary constraints, looting and the delayed payment of salaries in the health system were making the situation worse.

Foreign aid organisations supply 98% of the drugs that are available in Zimbabwe’s hospitals.

“It’s a death wish,” said a student nurse at Harare’s Parirenyatwa Hospital, adding that the number of deaths per week from water-borne diseases was clearly on the increase.

The report says erratic water supplies and drought have resulted in the most populous areas going for up to five days without running water. “This is an emergency because once you do not have enough water it affects sanitation and, once you have poor sanitation, you are already inviting water-borne diseases,” said Minister of Health and Child Care Dr David Parirenyatwa.

In 2008, the Zimbabwean government was forced to appeal for international aid when a cholera epidemic spread across the country. The report says the outbreak spilt across the borders into South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique and Zambia. A total of 98,592 cases of cholera and 4,288 deaths from the disease were reported during that outbreak, with poor sanitation and limited access to healthcare pinpointed as the main causes.

The Times report

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