Zimbabwe: Cholera now national emergency
Posted: Friday, December 5, 2008
By Paidamoyo Chipunza
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December 04, 2008
THE Government yesterday declared the cholera outbreak that has claimed 563 lives so far and the malfunctioning of central hospitals as national emergencies and appealed to the donor community for assistance to alleviate the situation.
Addressing stakeholders at a meeting to mobilise resources for the health sector held in Harare, the Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr David Parirenyatwa, said there was a critical shortage of resources in the health sector.
He said referral hospitals were in urgent need of drugs, food and equipment.
Dr Parirenyatwa also cited the critical shortage of staff in hospitals adding that those remaining had no zeal to work.
"Our central hospitals are literally not functioning. Our staff is demotivated and we need your support to ensure that they start coming to work and our health system is revived," Dr Parirenyatwa said.
Among the items urgently required by hospitals are medicines, laboratory reagents, surgical sundries, renal and laundry equipment, X-ray films and boilers.
He said 450 renal patients required dialysis.
Dr Parirenyatwa appealed for food to feed patients and for child supplementary feeding programmes.
He warned that the shortage of resources risked derailing the country's anti-retroviral programme to HIV patients that was going on well.
"The emergency appeal will help us reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with the current socio-economic environment by December 2009.
"We are hoping that within the next 12 months we would have achieved the package," Dr Parirenyatwa said.
He said 563 people had died of cholera throughout the country as of yesterday.
"There has been a reduction in the number of cholera cases in the past days from all provinces except for Harare where all cases are still being linked to Budiriro. We still have a challenge of controlling the movement of people in an effort to curb further prevalence of the outbreak," he said.
He said his ministry required US$1,5 million every month as incentives for health workers. "So far, US$7 million has been made available with effect from January 1 2009 and there is still a gap of US$11 million which we are requesting now," Dr Parirenyatwa said.
The incentives, Dr Parirenyatwa said, would cover all health personnel including those in training institutions.
The Deputy Minister of Water and Infrastructural Development, Cde Walter Mzembi, who also attended the meeting, said his ministry had water treatment chemicals enough to last the next 12 weeks.
"I am appealing for at least R40 million to purchase chemicals for the next two months and the money is needed between now and next Monday," Cde Mzembi said.
R10 million will buy aluminum sulphate solution and the remainder will pay for aluminum sulphate granular.
Donors who included United Nation agencies, embassies and non-governmental organisations pledged to assist Government address the critical needs within the specified period.
United Nations Development Programme country representative Dr Agostinho Zacarias said the current problems facing Zimbabwe's health sector needed a co-ordinated response.
"We need to pool our resources together and see how best we can respond to this emergency," he said.
World Health Organisation representative Dr Custodia Mandlate said while there has been overwhelming response from the donor community pledging to assist the Government of Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare should take a leadership and stewardship role in revamping the health sector.
Dr Parirenyatwa's Deputy Dr Edwin Muguti, Acting Finance Minister Cde Webster Shamu, the Dean of Diplomatic Corps and DRC Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Mwanananga Mwanapanga, UN agencies' representatives, NGOs and senior Government officials attended the meeting.
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