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Health Crisis - Focus on Cholera and Anthrax - Index of articles
cover-up of cholera deaths
November 01, 2008
More than 20
people have succumbed to cholera in Harare's Budiriro high-density
suburb in the past seven days, contrary to government claims that
only six have died, authoritative health officials have confided
to The Standard.
This puts the number
of people that have died of cholera, a preventable and treatable
disease, at nearly 100 people in less than two months in Harare,
Chitungwiza, Kariba and Chinhoyi.
is attributed to the erratic supply of water by the failed Zimbabwe
National Water Authority (Zinwa), resulting in some residents drinking
water from contaminated and sewage-drenched shallow wells that they
have dug on their stands.
A senior health official
at Beatrice Road Infectious Diseases' Hospital told The Standard
11 people died from cholera at the centre on Friday and Saturday
The official said he
expected more deaths as dozens of critically ill patients were thronging
the hospital, seeking treatment. He said medical stocks were running
low against increased demand.
we have recorded 11 deaths here and more than 70 cholera patients
are admitted here," said the official. "The deaths are
well over 20 since the outbreak."
When The Standard news
crew visited the hospital yesterday, patients were being treated
under trees as all wards were full.
The very few nurses who
were attending to patients — some writhing in agony on rock-hard
small beds — had suspended "drips" from tree branches.
The hospital moved out
all TB patients to Wilkins Hospital to create space for cholera
patients, mostly from Budiriro and Glen View.
"We are overwhelmed;
this is why we had to move TB patients from here," said the
In Budiriro, the cholera
outbreak has claimed more lives than any other suburb in Harare.
The Standard news crew visited at least 10 homes, where bereaved
families were holding funeral wakes yesterday.
The families blasted
the Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr David Parirenyatwa
and the Minister of Water and Infrastructure Development, Engineer
Munacho Mutezo of being indifferent to their plight.
A relative of Killian
Tapfumaneyi and his wife, Ella Magumise, who both died of cholera
on the same day, had no kind words for the health minister.
"He visited this
area on Tuesday promising to bring clean water but nothing has come
since and more people are dying. He is useless," he said.
Ironically Magumise was
a nurse at Parirenyatwa hospital.
Fungai Jarawani, whose
daughter Eniva (29) died on Tuesday, said they were failing to bury
her because the central bank was not allowing withdrawals enough
to finance the burial. He said the bank should relax the withdrawal
"We applied for
cash at the bank and we were told to come back on Monday. People
can't continue mourning here because the toilets have blocked
and flies are all over. More people are at risk," said Jarawani,
who had also been treated for cholera.
Harare City Council Environmental
Health Officer Dombo Chibanda, who was at Budiriro 1 Clinic, said
the situation was bad.
"The situation here
is bad. We need more manpower because more and more people are coming
here to seek treatment," said Chibanda, who refused to reveal
the number of deaths.
At the clinic, patients
waiting to get medication were slumped on concrete benches. Some
At the gate, residents
were jostling to get water purification tablets. Unfortunately,
some failed to get the tablets because the demand was greater than
Sydney Chirombe MDC councillor
for Budiriro Ward 33 said "many people had died of cholera"
in Budiriro 1 suburb only last week.
"The situation in
Budiriro is so pathetic, though statistics of people who have died
of cholera are still being compiled, they are more than what the
state media is reporting," he said. "Two died people died
on admission at Budiriro 1 Clinic today, (yesterday)."
At Budiriro 1 Shopping
Centre, residents were scrambling for clean water from a single
bowser from Unicef.
Harare Residents' Association (CHRA) said cholera deaths
recorded by the government were an underestimate as fatalities were
also reported in Dzivarasekwa.
CHRA said "several
residents" of Dzivarasekwa had succumbed to the disease but
most of the cases had gone unreported.
there is a possibility that the figures are conservative as there
is high possibility that there are some unreported cases,"
Parirenyatwa, who could
not be reached for comment yesterday, was recently quoted as saying
his ministry was working to resolve the crisis.
But CHRA has
dismissed this as "crocodile's tears".
the Minister of Health and Zanu PF's crocodile tears and grandstanding
in trying to appear as if they are concerned about the health of
residents at a time when some have already died due to the pandemic
that has been looming for the better part of the year."
The cholera crisis in
Budiriro appears to eclipse earlier outbreaks in Chitungwiza, Epworth,
Mabvuku and Tafara.
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