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UN: Cholera Treatment Centers Around Zimbabwe Short On Supplies, Staff

The cholera epidemic wracking Zimbabwe has not been brought under control, said the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in a situation report issued Friday.

The World Health Organization, meanwhile, said the total number of deaths from cholera was 2,773 as of Thursday while the number of cases since August topped 50,000.

The report from the U.N. Humanitarian Affairs Office noted that the fatality rate continued to rise to 5.7% compared with the international norm of about 1%.

OCHA said many of the cholera treatment centers that have been established around the country lack food, medicines and equipment, and are short on staff. International agencies are finding it hard to deliver relief because of logistical obstacles - among others fuel is in critically short supply in Zimbabwe and communications are problematic.

The report said "concerns are mounting" over the risk of flooding due to heavier than usual rains and forecasts of more to come, as flooding could worsen the epidemic.

For a closer look at the situation on the ground one area hit by cholera, reporter Marvellous Mhlanga-Nyahuye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe spoke with a recovering cholera patient in Kadoma, Mashonaland West, who voiced concern about the hygienic conditions at a cholera treatment center in Rimuka which was packed and its staff overwhelmed.

Bau Nkala said he witnessed patients vomiting and lying in their own waste because there were not enough clinic staff to help them, and witnessed people die around him.

Nkala recovered from his bout with the water-borne disease but said he is worried about his mother who has also contracted cholera, for which he blames the lack of safe drinking water in Kadoma exacerbated by leaks from the deteriorating sewage system.

More reports from VOA’s Studio7 for Zimbabwe…