cholera zimbabwe, water zimbabwe, mugabe cholera
Associated Press
A youngster carries a child on her back through a stream of polluted water in Harare,

Zimbabwe Declares National Emergency Due to Cholera Epidemic

December 05, 2008 01:31 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The country is seeking additional international aid to address a cholera outbreak, coupled with the collapse of the national health system.

Government Makes Plea for International Assistance

Zimbabwe’s government is in need of aid to buy food, drugs and medical costs such as equipment and doctors’ salaries, state media reported on Thursday, after the government declared a state of emergency at a meeting on Wednesday.

“Our central hospitals are literally not functioning,” Minister of Health David Parirenyatwa said Wednesday, according to the BBC.

According to a UN estimate, the number of suspected cholera cases in the nation since August has reached above 12,600, with 570 deaths.

Zimbabweans are struggling to find food and clean drinking water, due to lack of water treatment and broken sewers. The country has also recently seen wholesale economic collapse and the highest inflation in the world, which has caused cash to become scarce. A new 100 million Zimbabwean dollar note was introduced on Thursday in attempt to ease the crisis.

Residents report that the government has not been able to alleviate the situation, due to its paralysis since disputed elections in March between President Robert Mugabe and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, who have since been struggling to resolve talks over a power-sharing deal.
Several international entities have already pledged aid, such as the U.S. Agency for International Development, which plans to provide an extra $600,000 specifically for the cholera outbreak; the European Commission, which is sending $12 million for drugs and clean water; and the International Red Cross, which sent supplies on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, on Thursday the BBC reported that Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga has called for Mugabe’s removal, citing the death of power-sharing talks in the country. “It’s time for African governments … to push him out of power,” Odinga said after talks with Zimbabwe’s opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, in what the BBC called some of the strongest comments against Mugabe by any African leader.

“Power-sharing is dead in Zimbabwe and will not work with a dictator who does not really believe in power-sharing,” Odinga told the BBC. The comments may contribute to increased pressure against Mugabe in the region.

In November, power-sharing talks that started in September between the opposition and ruling parties in Zimbabwe came to an end after the MDC accused the ruling ZANU-PF party of being behind “a new wave of violence” against its supporters.

Related Topics: New water purifying technology; cholera in the US

A Canadian company called Element Four is hoping that its WaterMill, an electric machine that uses moisture from the air and purifies it into clean drinking water, could be useful to developing countries such as Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo suffering from water-borne diseases. The WaterMill, which is scheduled to go on sale in the spring, can supply a household with potable drinking water, while the WaterWall, another Element Four device in development, could potentially supply an entire village.

The potential for a cholera outbreak became a concern in the United States in 2005 after the landfall of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. “We are gravely concerned about the potential for cholera, typhoid, and dehydrating diseases that could come as a result of the stagnant water and other conditions,” announced the Bush administration’s Health and Human Services secretary. Health problems of many kinds have been a continuing issue for the city’s residents since the hurricane.

Reference: What is cholera?


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