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Cholera Outbreak Adds To Strain On Zimbabwe's Health Care System

Outbreaks of cholera in Harare and Kariba has put new pressure on the Zimbabwean health care system as hospital doctors on strike in the capital and Bulawayo remained sidelined with little sign of progress in negotiations with the government.

Authorities reported nine cases of cholera in the Mabvuku and Tafara, populous and lower-income Harare districts. But unofficial sources said a dozen people have been hospitalized at the Beatrice Infectious Disease Hospital for treatment of cholera.

Sources in the northern town of Kariba, meanwhile, said Health Ministry officials have set up crisis management and treatment centers at the Nyaodza fishing camp and in Kariba's Nyamhunga 2 suburb, the locale of the cholera outbreak.

Efforts to obtain comment from officials at the Ministry of Health were unsuccessful.

From Kariba, Alexander Sibanda, chairman of the town's Community Working Group on Health, told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that poor hygiene and poverty are responsible for the latest cholera outbreak.

Cholera is a severe intestinal disease caused by a microbe called vibrio cholera that is spread by flies. People are most often infected by drinking contaminated water. Early symptoms include mild diarrhea, followed by sudden violent purging.The diarrhea may worsen, causing cramps. Cholera can be fatal if it is not properly treated.

Dr. Billy Rigava, president of the Zimbabwe Medical Association, said the Zimbabwean government must do more to prevent people from contracting the deadly disease.

More reports from VOA'S Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...