Zimbabwe runs out of water-Public desperation is increasing

December 2 2008

Water supplies to residents in Harare were cut by the authorities yesterday as Zimbabwe’s cholera epidemic tightened its grip and the city witnessed its worst unrest for a decade.

The Zimbabwe National Water Authority turned off the pumps in the capital after it ran out of purifying chemicals. With cholera cases soaring above 11,000 across the country, and an anthrax outbreak ravaging the the countryside, David Parirenyatwa, the Health Minister, urged Zimbabweans to stop shaking hands to avoid spreading disease.

Companies and government offices, especially those in high-rise buildings, were sending workers home by midday as lavatories became blocked. “My office stinks and the toilet is a disgusting site,” said Mary Sakupwene, a secretary. “I won’t go back until the water’s on again.”

The four-star Jameson Hotel stopped taking guests and other less exclusive ones closed. Restaurants provided buckets of water for hand-washing and flushing. There was a sharp increase in people turning up at the Harare Sports Club – served by boreholes – for their ablutions after their home taps ran dry. It notified members that from today they would be charged $US2 (£1.34) for a shower.

In Harare’s townships, some of which have been without water for two years, 20 litres of water from one of the thousands of backyard hand-dug wells can cost $1. All wells hold the danger of cholera. “What I am afraid of is now that the rainy season has come, the faeces lying in the bushes will be washed into shallow wells and contaminate the water,” said Mr Parirenyatwa.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) urged President Mugabe to accept international humanitarian help. “The country is reaching a catastrophic level, in terms of food, health delivery, education,” said Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader. “Everything seems to be collapsing around us.”

The seething anger felt by ordinary Zimbabweans exploded yesterday as hundreds of off-duty soldiers went on the rampage in the centre of Harare. Witnesses said that the violence erupted at a bus depot on the edge of the city centre where soldiers, frustrated at not being able to draw cash from banks, confronted illegal moneychangers. The dealers scattered and the soldiers turned on the city, followed by civilians spurring them on.

The mobs stoned cars and looted shops. In the panic, home-bound workers fled and traffic jammed as motorists tried to turn back from the scene.

It was the first serious public unrest since the riots over food price increases ten years ago. The disturbance brought a swift and brutal response from the authorities who swamped the area with heavily armed para-military police and troops. At least one man was shot.

Source

Doctors struggle to ‘hold back tide’

A man pushes his relative with cholera in a wheelbarrow in Zimbabwe

November 27 2008

A 28-year-old Zimbabwean medical student speaks to the BBC about the cholera outbreak that has killed more than 360 people in the country since August

He describes his visit to two areas in and around the capital, Harare, that have been worst affected by the crisis.

“I just came back from Budiriro suburb and the city of Chitungwiza near Harare, and the situation there is really desperate and critical.

At a clinic in Budiriro they were trying to treat hundreds of people.

There were so many that they had to lie them down outside.

While I was there perhaps 150 more people arrived looking for treatment.

The people arriving look extremely weak and dehydrated.

They could barely stand, and many came being wheeled in wheelbarrows.

They had to string up washing lines outside the clinic to hang the packets of intravenous fluid.

They lay on the floor while the tubes were inserted into their arms.

But these people were lucky.

Health workers at the clinic told me that until the day before they had no intravenous fluid.

The clinic had a delivery from an aid agency that day.

I don’t know how long their supplies will last.

‘Held to ransom’

In Chitungwiza we saw that sewer pipes had burst, releasing sewage into the street.

A public well in a Harare suburb

Sanitation systems have broken down, so wells are being dug to find water

It was like a river flowing through the town, it just went on and on.

The stink was like a disgusting toilet.

I worry especially for the children, they’re most at risk because they play in the street with all the sewage, and don’t know how bad it is for them.

The cause of these bursting pipes is the lack of maintenance and repairs.

As time has gone on the people who were meant to be doing this have not been paid, or have deserted their jobs to do other work that can get them foreign currency.

And so the sanitation system has broken down.

In Harare itself people have avoided the disease, so far.

In other part of Harare the sanitation systems are still working, for the time being, but it’s a very communicable disease and it is spreading quickly.

Doctors and nurses I speak to say they feel like they are being held to ransom by the government.

They’re not being paid, they must work voluntarily to deal with this disease.

They are really very disgruntled.

They say they are just a few people holding back a tide of disease.

If we don’t get some help soon it’s going to be very tough.”

Source

The Anthrax needs to be addressed quickly. They need a great deal of help.

The Sanctions need to lifted as well.

Both

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) And Save the Children

Are there helping. Donations would be gladly accepted.

Now anthrax takes toll on the starving in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s cholera epidemic hits 10,000 to 11,000 and rising

Economic sanctions are a “Weapon of Mass Destruction”

Published in: on December 2, 2008 at 10:38 am  Comments Off on Zimbabwe runs out of water-Public desperation is increasing  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

In Zimbabwe Doctors and Nurses beaten by police during peaceful protest

By Tichaona Sibanda

November 18 2008

About one hundred health workers were injured on Tuesday, some of them seriously, after heavily armed riot police baton-charged their peaceful protest march in central Harare.

The health workers from Harare, Parirenyatwa and Chitungwiza hospitals had just embarked on a peaceful procession towards the Ministry of Health offices, to express concern against the total collapse of the health delivery system.

Dr Simba Ndoda, one of the protest organizers and a victim of the police brutality, told us the authorities went to extremes in dealing with the unarmed health workers. He said over one thousand health workers, including doctors, nurses, radiographers, administrators and pharmacists, had gathered at Parirenyatwa hospital for the protest march.

However hundreds of police in riot gear deployed outside the hospital and cordoned off all link roads. They stopped the health workers and unleashed a baton charge, which left dozens of members of the health fraternity injured.

The police flushed out leaders of the protest march and manhandled them before dragging some of them to waiting police vehicles. Unconfirmed reports say a number of protesters were hauled off to different police stations.

‘This was supposed to be a peacful demonstration. We were unarmed. We only had our uniforms and stethoscopes. We tried to reason with the police so that we could proceed with the march but like a lightining bolt they just set upon us, without warning and savagely beat us, inflicting serious injuries on many of our compatriots,’ Dr Ndoda said.

The strike action comes amid the failure of the government to contain the spread of cholera, which has so far killed hundreds of people, due to lack of medicines and drugs. The protesters were also demanding that the government review their salaries, which are not enough to even provide food for a family. ‘Enough is enough’ and ‘Pay health workers properly’ were some of the banners carried.

The country’s health system, once among the best in Africa, collapsed under the weight of the world’s highest inflation rate, officially estimated at 231 million percent, but believed to be over 5 quintillion percent. Most hospitals are now unable to provide even basic medicines.

Dr Ndoda said conditions at state hospitals were ‘traumatising,’ explaining that he had personally seen some of his patients ‘die unnecessarily’ because of lack of drugs, medicines and basic equipment.

‘It is very disturbing. There are no drugs, no equipment and now there is no manpower. The country’s three major referral hospitals have been closed and the government has still not said a word about it.

So how are the ordinary citizens without money going to survive? Asked Dr Ndoda. He said the protest was also meant to show their outrage at the lack of political will by the government to resolve the health crisis.

The Zimbabwe Doctors for Human rights strongly condemned the manhandling and ruthless thrashing of health workers at the hands of the police.A doctor who asked not to be named said it was strange the government had resources to deal with a peaceful march, but was doing nothing about the cholera pandemic that threatened the lives of up to 1.4 million people.

A statement from Doctors without Borders said the whole country is at risk if cholera continues to spread unchecked. Officially state media reports that only 73 people have died of the disease, but independent estimates put the figure closer to one thousand. Many tens of thousands have fallen ill.
In Beitbridge, cholera has killed 36 and 431 have been hospitalised at the border town since last week. Beitbridge medical officer Taikaitei Kanongara said they expected the number of victims to rise.

Source

Police violently disrupt  Protest

November 18, 2008

The police before they charged.

By Raymond Maingire

HARARE – Anti-riot police on Tuesday violently disrupted a protest march by hundreds of disgruntled workers from Harare hospitals as they sought to register with the authorities  their mounting concern over the collapse of Zimbabwe’s health delivery system.

The police blocked a peaceful march by more than 700 hospital workers who attempted to leave Parirenyatwa Hospital to present a petition to the Minister of Health, Dr David Parirenyatwa at his offices at Mukwati Building in the city.

The marchers comprised doctors, nurses, nurse aids and general workers from Harare, Parirenyatwa and Chitungwiza hospitals.

According to Dr Simba Ndoda, the secretary general of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association, there were representatives from Chinhoyi and Kadoma hospitals, which have also been forced to close down due to the crisis.

Relating the incident over the phone, Dr Ndoda said the police descended on the marchers in the hospital grounds and assaulted them.

“The police beat us thoroughly,” he said, “They stopped us as we were about to exit the grounds of Parirenyatwa and they beat us up and followed right into the nurses’ homes.

“As I am speaking, we are in hiding at Harare Hospital. We hear police are looking for us.”

He said police had initially informed the protestors not to proceed with the march “for political reasons” as they feared it had potential to grow into fully blown riots by disgruntled Zimbabweans.

Said Dr Ndoda, “We had asked for approval to go ahead with the march but the police denied us permission, citing political reasons. The police said they feared some people would join the march and the situation would become uncontrollable.

“We wanted people to now the real reasons why doctors are on strike. The State media is quick to misinform the public that doctors are insensitive to the plight of ordinary people who are dying in their thousands in hospitals because of the strike by doctors.

“We wanted people to know that while we have genuine reasons to go on strike because of perennially poor working conditions, it is still not possible for us to perform our duties as there is nothing to use.”

According to Dr Ndoda, almost 99 percent of Zimbabweans rely on government hospitals.

Primrose Matambanadzo, Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights co-coordinator said Tuesday’s march was more than a strike by hospital workers.

“This was more than a strike,” she said.

“A strike is where you stop going to work for one simple reason. This time we are decrying the total collapse of the whole health system.

“This is an issue where we have all reasons to be concerned. We cannot continue to watch helplessly while patients die in thousands.

“Doctors have been on strike for weeks but nothing is being done to address the situation.”

She said an earlier meeting with the permanent secretary of health to register their concerns did not bear any fruit as nothing was done to address the situation.”

By the time of going to press, there were no official reports of any arrests or casualties.

But baton-wielding anti-riot policemen continued to cordon off the whole Parirenyatwa hospital premises late into the afternoon. Police trucks were patrolling the grounds.

Zimbabwe’s government hospitals stopped operating nearly three weeks ago due to a strike by doctors over poor working conditions.

Critically ill patients have been turned away ever since. An emergency room is in operation at Parirenyatwa hospital.

Mpilo hospital, Bulawayo’s biggest hospital also closed last Wednesday, citing similar reasons.

Thousands of patients are being referred to private hospitals which charge for their services in US dollars.

Efforts to obtain comment from the Minister of Health Dr Parirenyatwa were fruitless.

But government still maintains the health situation in the country is still under control as the country’s central bank is being tasked to procure scarce drugs from abroad.

Source

Half of the Zimbabwe population faces starvation

Sierra Leone: A mission for MSF(Doctors Without Borders)