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Group of Zimbabwean Doctors Warns Cholera Case Total Could Reach 123,000

A group of Zimbabwean doctors has warned that the total number of cases of cholera from the epidemic which continues to sweep the country and claim lives could approach 123,000 compared with the most recent official figure approaching 87,000.

Dr. Douglas Gwatidzo, chairman of the Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights, said the worst-case scenario could come to be if authorities do not take urgent steps to rehabilitate the public water infrastructure and reactivate the state health care system.

He sounded the alarm as the World Health Organization reported that the cumulative number of cases since last August surged by 1,569 in a single day to 86,867, with 12 more deaths to take total fatalities in the epidemic to 3,948.

In an interview with reporter Marvellous Mhlanga-Nyahuye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe, Dr. Gwatidzo explained the methodology his organization used to generate its projection at a time when some organizations are reporting a slowdown in the pace of the epidemic.

Elsewhere, though some 7 million Zimbabweans depend on humanitarian food distributions to fend off hunger, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network or FEWSNET said the availability of food has improved since January. The food security assessment unity, operating under the auspices of the U.S. Agency for International Development, said donations from aid groups and increased imports by private traders were mitigating widespread shortages.

FEWSNET said humanitarian agencies have imported 750,000 metric tonnes of cereals while private-sector commodities traders and individuals have been bringing in greater quantities of maize and other staples, resulting in a decline in food prices over the period.

But spokesman Fambai Ngirande of the National Association Of Non-Governmental Organizations told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe said the rising number of hungry people in the country is still outpacing efforts by humanitarian agencies to relieve them, and many Zimbabweans cannot afford food at current market prices.

More reports from VOA's Studio7 For Zimbabwe...