Zimbabwe's government criticized over cholera outbreak

FILE Mthuli Ncube at the World Economic Forum Meeting on Africa at the Cape Town International Convention Centre in May 2013

THE World Health Organisation (WHO) is scaling up its response to an outbreak of cholera that has claimed at least 24 lives in Zimbabwe. Authorities report that the outbreak began on September 1 in Harare and as of that date to September 11, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reports that there have been almost 2000 suspected cholera cases, including 58 confirmed cases and 24 deaths.

The MDC accused the government of using the cholera outbreak, which has claimed 25 lives, to stop the mock inauguration at the party's 19th anniversary celebrations in Harare on Saturday.

Patients infected with cholera receive treatment in a polyclinic in Harare, Zimbabwe, on September 14, 2018. Informal housing areas without running water have mushroomed and basic infrastructure has collapsed after years of neglect.

On Tuesday, Health Minister Obadiah Moyo declared a state of emergency in the city.

"The number of cases has continued to soar", he said.

In 2008, a cholera outbreak killed some 4,000 people and at least 100,000 people fell ill.

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Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Thursday urged the Harare city council and other local authorities to work on improving sanitation to prevent water-borne diseases. Early this month, the MDC-T approached the High Court for and won an order forcing police to allow it to hold a rally in Kwekwe after its request had been turned down over a typhoid outbreak detected in the Midlands capital of Gweru, about 65km away.

The United Nations Human Development Index - which measures health, education and economic performance - ranks Zimbabwe 154 out of 188 countries. The City Council of Harare has struggled for a long time to supply water in all the areas of the capital city with the help of antiquated equipment as well as infrastructure often creating a force on the residents to drink water either from the boreholes as well as from the open walls.

"It is appalling that in 2018 people are still dying of such a preventable disease", Jessia Pwiti, Amnesty's executive director for Zimbabwe, said in a statement on Wednesday. The cholera outbreak in the country was announced on September 1 and about 21 people have died so far and some 3,000 are getting infected now.

"Cholera is a symbol of inequity".

Prevention and Control at the 68th session of WHO's Regional Committee for Africa.

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