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Amid Cholera Outbreaks, Zimbabwe Doctors Demand State Ensure Safe Water

A group of Zimbabwean doctors are urging the country's forthcoming power-sharing government to initiate an “urgent, coordinated and comprehensive response” to provide safe water and address deterioration of sanitation systems to prevent disease.

The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights said access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation are not privileges but basic human rights.

Health Minister David Parirenyatwa told the state-controlled Herald newspaper last week that 11 people have died of cholera, most of them in Harare satellite town Chitungwiza.

Dr. Parirenyatwa could not be reached for comment on the call from the doctors.

The Doctors for Human rights statement said it is not enough for the Ministry of Health to respond to outbreaks of disease only after they have occurred, saying it must work closely with other ministries including those responsible for water resources to ensure conditions are maintained to prevent outbreaks of communicable diseases.

The Zimbabwe National Water Authority has come under fire for failing to provide safe drinking water to cities across the nation. ZINWA reportedly has been unable to import sufficient supplies of water-treatment chemicals due to a lack of foreign exchange.

Chairman Douglas Gwatidzo of the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that hospitals are seeing many more people with diarrheal diseases than officials acknowledge.

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