Beyond cholera: Zimbabwe’s worsening crisis

Sent to DS  from Pete Masters, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) UK, thanks Pete

Dandelion Salad

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)

Date Published: 17/02/2009 08:16

By MSF

Zimbabwe’s humanitarian crisis continues to rapidly deteriorate, causing appalling suffering. The organisation’s medical teams have now treated almost 45,000 people, an estimated 75% of the total number of cases in the current cholera outbreak – and the crisis is far from over.

The severity of this outbreak is just one indication of the disastrous state of Zimbabwe’s health system and its collapsed infrastructure, as MSF describes in its paper Beyond Cholera: Zimbabwe’s Worsening Crisis, issued today (click the image to read the full report). Many health facilities have now closed or are not functioning. Others demand exorbitant fees in foreign currencies. Effectively, this makes it impossible for most Zimbabweans to access medical care.

Through this report, MSF appeals to the government of Zimbabwe to immediately remove the barriers stopping essential humanitarian and medical aid. The organisation also calls on the international community to respect the distinction between political goals and the urgent need for humanitarian assistance for people living in Zimbabwe.

There has been a devastating implosion of Zimbabwe’s once-lauded health system, which doesn’t just affect cholera patients.” said Manuel Lopez, MSF head of mission in Zimbabwe. “We know that public hospitals are turning people away, health centres are running out of supplies and equipment, there is an acute lack of medical staff, patients can’t afford to travel to pick up their HIV medication or to receive treatment and many of our own clinics are overflowing. From what we see each day it couldn’t be clearer – this is a massive medical emergency, spiralling out of control.”

Click here to read about MSF Nurse Pia’s experiences working during the cholera outbreak or here to read about Garry, a water/sanitation expert, working in South Africa with Zimbabweans who have fled the health crisis.

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