Eleven more die in new cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe

Harare_(dpa) _ Eleven more people have died in a new outbreak of cholera, an acutely infectious disease, in northern Zimbabwe, state media reported Tuesday.

The daily Herald newspaper quoted the local civil protection unit in the run-down former agricultural town of Chinhoyi as saying that the deaths had occurred in the last three weeks, while 500 had been treated for the disease.

Earlier this month, health officials confirmed that 16 people had died in the dormitory town of Chitungwiza on Harare's outskirts.

Like nearly all urban areas in the country, the two centres are stricken by prolonged breakdowns in water supplies, which result in exploding sewerage pipes that spew raw effluent into crowded townships, while refuse collection has mostly ground to a halt.

"The widespread outbreaks of diarrhoeal diseases, including cholera, across Zimbabwe, resulting from the catastrophic breakdown of urban water supply and sanitation services will dramatically worsen with the rainy season which begins in less than a month," warned Gregory Powell, the chairman of the Zimbabwe Child Protection Society, warned.

"A toxic combination of under-nutrition and diarrhoea is likely to result in the deaths of thousands of children, and many more into acute, severe malnutrition."

Felix Mubvaruri, a spokesman for the state-controlled Zimbabwe National Water Authority office in Chinhoyi, said the organization was severely short of equipment, including rods for clearing blocked sewers. He blamed the constant power cuts afflicting all urban areas.

"If we could have uninterrupted electricity, we would be able to pump water to all residents."

The country is in the midst of a dramatic economic and infrastructural collapse, with inflation officially calculated at 230 million per cent and the local currency plunged to one-quadrillionth of its value since the beginning of the year, following nearly 30 years of violent, reckless rule by 84-year-old President Robert Mugabe. dpa jr bve


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