Cholera Deaths Masked In Official Figures

THE Zanu PF politburo was on Wednesday presented with a shocking report on cholera deaths, suggesting that hundreds of people could have died across the country due to the outbreak of the water-borne disease.


Politburo sources said the party’s secretary for health Sydney Sekeramayi told the senior officials that the disease was widespread and had claimed more lives than had so far been publicly revealed.
The sources said the party recommended that government move with speed and combat the disease before the death toll rises.
“The politburo received a shocking report on the outbreak of cholera which indicated that more people have died than has been publicly acknowledged,” a senior politburo member said yesterday.  
Soldiers were on Wednesday deployed in south-western Harare to assist with containing the outbreak.
Last week, the Reserve Bank allocated an additional $374 quadrillion, 28 vehicles, 60 000 litres of diesel and 30 000 litres of petrol to help improve water supplies and alleviate the cholera outbreak.
Independent sources yesterday said cholera had killed more than 100 people in Harare alone.
The official media on the same day said the epidemic had killed at least 30 people in Budiriro, a high density area in Harare.
The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights chairman Douglas Gwatidzo said his organisation is yet to get the actual figures of cholera-related deaths from the Health ministry. Their estimates indicate that more than 100 people in Budiriro alone have succumbed to the epidemic.
“We are still trying to get the actual figures but from our estimations cholera has claimed more than 100 lives in Budiriro alone and the figure could be higher as some of the deaths were not being reported to the officials,” Gwatidzo said.
A doctor at Harare Central Hospital who spoke on condition of anonymity said the situation has been worsened by the shortage of medical supplies and non-availability of doctors and nurses at major hospitals — Parirenyatwa Hospital, Harare Central Hospital and Chitungizwa Hospital.  
He said: “Cholera has killed more people than is being reported in the state media, all because there are no medical supplies at the hospitals.”
The doctor said the shortages of medical supplies has prompted some medical officers to stop reporting for duty as it was becoming traumatic for them to watch their patients die daily from a treatable disease like cholera.
The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) on Wednesday condemned the government and the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) for failing to solve the water crisis in Harare which has resulted in the cholera outbreak.
“Residents in the city of Harare have continued to bear the brunt of Zinwa’s chronic failure which has resulted in the cholera scourge that has claimed lives in virtually all medium and high density suburbs, with the prevalence, of late being rife in areas like Budiriro, Glen View, Glen Norah and Dzivaresekwa,”said CHRA.
Meanwhile, the current water shortages being faced by most residential areas in Harare this week hit the Harare High Court forcing it to suspend business for two days.
The Master of the High Court Charles Nyatanga confirmed the suspension but said the court has since reopened after water supplies to the building were restored yesterday morning.
“I can confirm that the building was closed for two days because there was no water but after water supply was restored this morning the court has resumed its business,” Nyatanga said.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights in a statement released on Wednesday condemned the closure of court.
The statement reads: “Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) expresses its concerns over the closure of the High Court of Zimbabwe sitting in Harare at 1400hrs on Tuesday November 11 due to lack of water supply at the building housing Zimbabwe’s court of first instance.”
 A court of first instance is one where matters including those seeking to protect human rights can be directly brought before the judiciary.
 “That such a court as a vehicle for protecting human rights should be closed due to lack of water is a serious undermining of equal protection of the law to litigants, detainees, and even convicted prisoners whose matters are on appeal from lower courts,” said the ZLHR.

 

By Lucia Makamure