from MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE – THE death of some 20 people in the latest cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe has been blamed on the government’s failure to invest in infrastructure and health systems.
Human rights groups warned that unless urgent action was taken, the current death toll was likely to be as significant as the outbreak in 2008 when more than 4 300 people died of the water borne disease.
It was the largest ever recorded in Zimbabwe.
Jessica Pwiti, Executive Director of Amnesty International Zimbabwe, said the current epidemic was a consequence of failure to invest in and manage the basic water and sanitation infrastructure and Zimbabwe’s health care system.
“It is appalling that in 2018, people are still dying of such a preventable disease,” she said.
Pwiti said given what happened ten years ago, the government should have been better prepared.
“But no lessons were learned from the 2008 epidemic and the outbreak and deaths we’re seeing now is symptomatic of a still broken-down sanitation infrastructure and poor sewer management, worsened by shortages of drugs and medical supplies.”
In 2008, experts established that lack of a safe drinking water supply and broken-down sanitation systems that left residents surrounded by flowing raw sewage, which led to the outbreak.
“Yet a decade later we are seeing the same failures causing this latest outbreak,” Pwiti said.
The government of recently-elected President Emmerson Mnangagwa has declared the latest outbreak a national disaster.
– CAJ News