Home General Death toll in Zimbabwe cholera outbreak rises to 26

Death toll in Zimbabwe cholera outbreak rises to 26

by kenya-tribune
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The death toll in Zimbabwe‘s deadliest cholera outbreak rose to 26 on Thursday as the World Health Organisation
and the Red Cross said they were ramping up their
emergency responses.

Politicians trading blame over contaminated water
and collapsing infrastructure.

The deaths have turned out as a test on the
capacity of a new government to handle a major crisis just weeks
after violent demonstrations that followed the first election
since Robert Mugabe was toppled in a coup.

The opposition controls the city government in the capital,
and exchanged blame with the ruling ZANU-PF party of President
Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said it was providing
kits that contain oral rehydration solution, intravenous fluids
and antibiotics as the outbreak expanded quickly in Harare.

The International Red Cross in Zimbabwe said it had deployed
more than 1,000 volunteers to contain the outbreak. Residents in
Harare were dealing with a “double punch” after a recent
outbreak of typhoid.

“It’s so painful to lose a lot of people and we are finding
it difficult to mourn them under the circumstances,” Sharon
Chiwomboya, mother of a cholera patient, said outside a clinic
in Glenview suburb. “We fear for our school-going kids who are
also affected, as well as adults.”

Zimbabwe‘s biggest university said it had postponed a
graduation ceremony set for Friday due to the cholera outbreak.

Mnangagwa, who won an election in July after first taking
power when Mugabe was toppled last year, faces the difficult
task of rebuilding an economy that collapsed under Mugabe’s
four-decade rule. Rebuilding infrastructure is hard for a
government that spends 93 percent of its $4 billion annual
budget on salaries.

The latest cholera outbreak hit the city of 1.5 million
people after burst sewers in the Budiriro and Glenview suburbs
contaminated water in boreholes used by residents. Harare’s
population draws water from one lake originally meant for
300,000 people, while a new dam first mooted in the 1990s is
still to be constructed due to funding problems.

“TERRIBLE CONSEQUENCE”

“The current cholera epidemic is a terrible consequence of
Zimbabwe
‘s failure to invest in and manage both its basic water
and sanitation infrastructure and its health care system,”
Jessica Pwiti, Executive Director of Amnesty International
Zimbabwe
, said.

New Health Minister Obadiah Moyo blamed the
opposition-controlled city government.

“Someone was probably sitting on their job,” he said. “This
whole problem has arisen as a result of blocked sewers and these
were reported and were never repaired for at least two months.”

The opposition says the central government should have
provided more money. Harare city council officials have said
they need up to $10 billion to repair water, sewers and roads.

In the capital, long stretches of roads have been reduced to
potholed dusty tracks. Roads in other towns are in a worse state
of disrepair because government services are non-existent.

Raw sewage flows daily from blocked and burst pipes and
garbage piles up in some city townships. Residents in some
suburbs in Harare have not had running water for years and use
open wells.

Zimbabwe‘s debt of $11 billion to foreign lenders like the
World Bank and Africa Development Bank make it difficult to
borrow to finance infrastructure development.

At the height of Zimbabwe‘s economic crisis in 2008, 4,000
people died from cholera and more than 40,000 were infected.

Also read: Zimbabwe police ban gatherings in Harare to contain cholera outbreak

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