Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Doctors rebel as Mad Bob covers up cholera outbreak

Hundreds of people are dying of cholera in Zimbabwe while Robert Mugabe tries to cover up the epidemic.

With the infrastructure neglected for years, large sections of Harare, the capital, rely on standpipes and wells for water, increasing the risk of infection.

Most government medical staff downed what few tools they had last month to protest against the lack of medicines and equipment in state hospitals, leaving only army doctors to treat the sick.

Police broke up a protest at a hospital in Harare on Tuesday. The health workers regrouped later but were prevented by riot police from leaving the hospital.

The protesters planned to present a petition to the Government calling for "urgent action" to address the crisis in the public health system.

Meanwhile, the Herald newspaper reported that cholera had killed 36 people since Friday in the town of Beitbridge on the South African border. It said that 431 people had been diagnosed with the disease.

The newspaper reported 11 bodies "scattered all over the place" in the female wards because there was no room in the morgue. Health workers had no idea about the situation in surrounding rural areas because lack of fuel and transport prevented investigations, it said.

In Budiriro, a poverty-stricken township in the west of the capital, a policeman outside the local polyclinic said more than 60 people had died in the past two weeks.

The perimeter fence was covered in plastic, preventing outsiders from looking in as many accused the Government of grossly under-reporting cholera deaths. It says there have been 35 in the entire country.

A long-serving doctor in Harare said the epidemic was the worst in memory.

"It will get worse as the rains come," he said as the first summer showers drenched the city.

Linda Msimanga, 29, lives in one tiny room in Budiriro, and sat nursing her listless, mewling 14-month-old daughter, Siyabonga, weeping as she showed the infant's pale hands. Her husband died of cholera last week.

"We didn't have water for three months and we dug a well," she said. "My husband started complaining about stomach ache, he started to have uncontrolled diarrhoea which lasted the whole night, and in the morning we pushed him in a wheelbarrow to the clinic. The army doctors said he had serious dehydration.

"They put him on a drip and took him by ambulance to the Infectious Diseases Hospital. The service there was very slow and we took him to a private hospital. "When we got there he had fainted, and they gave him oxygen and two more drips, but when the doctor attended to him, they pronounced him dead."

1 Opinion(s):


Mother nature sorting things out.