ROHR Zimbabwe notes with apprehension the catastrophic progression of the cholera outbreak that is threatening to annihilate the lives of Zimbabwean citizens. ROHR Zimbabwe has been monitoring the anguish and threat posed by the closure or non functionality of state hospitals and clinic as a result of a protracted strike by nurses since the month of August and the recent strike of specialist doctors on 16 October which critically paralysed the health sector. Some of the biggest hospitals Parirenyatwa Group of hospitals, Harare Central hospital, and Mpilo General hospital have ever since been discharging and turning away critically ill patients and advising them to visit private hospitals.
Meanwhile Zimbabwe has been hit by a runaway cholera epidemic which, according to medical authorites, has claimed more than 100 people in the past two months. Doctors believe that many more cases of the disease, which causes acute diarrhoea and vomiting, and can lead to death from dehydration within 24 hours, have gone unreported. The State newspaper (The Herald) today (6 Nov 2008) claims Cholera has claimed nine people so far in Budiriro, The Standard (2 Nov 2008) reports that the casualties are well over twenty in Budiriro suburb since last week. The Standard reports that close to 100 people have died of Cholera in less than two months in Harare, Chitungwiza, Kariba and Chinyoyi.
A report released by the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights on 24 October said that 121 people died this year due to cholera countrywide. The Minister of Health and Child Welfare Dr David Parirenyatwa has been accused of trying to cover up the obvious collapse of the health sector and the incapacity of the State to handle the situation. He is also accused of understating the figure of deaths caused by the disease, a situation that creates a false impression that the ministry is on top of the situation, thereby blocking international intervention.
ROHR Zimbabwe members and residents in Budiriro are petitioning ZINWA, Ministry of local Governemnt and Ministry of health and child welfare to put a stop to further spread of the epidemic. ROHR Zimbabwe feels that the reports in the state media in the past two days that Civil Protection Unit and the Reserve Bank have made efforts to come to the people’s rescue are ‘too little to late’ as all the lives that have been lost could have been saved if they really cared about the plight of the people of Zimbabwe.
Article 16 of African Charter on Human and Peoples’ right states that:
‘Every individual shall have the right to enjoy the best attainable state of physical and mental health. States Parties to the present Charter shall take the necessary measures to protect the health of their people and to ensure that they receive medical attention when they are sick.’
Zimbabwe is party to this agreement and her inability to safeguard and guarantee the safety and health of its citizens violates people’s rights, which are also protected in the Zimbabwe constitution and the Universal declaration of human rights. As the political solution to Zimbabwen crisis remains evasive, the suffering of the people of Zimbabwe due to a collapse of virtually all economic indices is hearbreaking. We urge the ministries responsible to comprehensively stop further spread of the disease and resuscitate the health sector. Furthermore we demand a quick solution to the political logjam so that a phase of rebuilding can begin for the peoples’ sakes.
(Below is a petition being signed by Budiriro residents that will be submitted to ZINWA, Min of Local Gvt and Min of Health and Child welfare.)
PETITION ON THE NONE PROVISION OF WATER, SEWER SERVICING AND NONE COLLECTION OF REFUSE, WHICH HAS LED TO CHOLERA OUTBREAK IN BUDIRIRO AND OTHER SUBURBS COUNTRYWIDE
5 Nov 2008
We, Members of Restoration of Human Rights Zimbabwe and residents in Budiriro representing the whole of Zimbabwe, note with grave concern that the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) which is mandated to supply water has dismally failed and or neglected to do the same over the last three months.
Gravely angered by the fact that it is as a result of the failure by the local government and ZINWA to deal with the water crisis, which is perennially unavailable and, on the short intervals it is available, it is not adequately treated which has led to the outbreak of Cholera in Zimbabwe.
We further realize that Cholera is a preventable and curable disease and therefore the death of people over the past weeks could have been prevented if there was will power and sincerity to act and save lives from the Ministry of Health and child welfare headed by Dr David Parirenyatwa.
Despite this dereliction of duty resulting in the perennial shortage of water in all sections of Budiriro suburb and other suburbs in Harare and other towns, we continue to receive astronomical water bills from ZINWA that are due and payable. As a consequence, there has been no supply of clean water for basic household use, residents have resorted to drinking water from contaminated open wells.
We are worried that despite the fact that there has been an outbreak of deadly Cholera that has resulted in the loss of lives of some residents of Budiriro, at least nine of which have been documented in the daily newspaper ‘The Herald’, and twenty in ‘The Standard’ we however believe that the number of deaths is now exceeding that figure. Little or nothing at all has been done to rectify this disastrous situation despite the fact that water is indispensable to guaranteeing a dignified life.
The Harare City council continues to compound the water crisis confronting the Budiriro residents by failing to collect refuse around the area, further exacerbating this deplorable unhealthy situation that is already prevailing unabated due to the acts of omission by ZINWA and the Harare City Council.
We are greatly worried that the state is not adequately monitoring the actions or omissions of ZINWA and the Harare City Council, or making tangible efforts to meet the basic water needs of Zimbabweans and avert the outbreak of water borne diseases.
Also worrying is the slow or non-reaction by the State through its Ministry of Health and Child welfare to stand up to the challenge and combat this disease that is claiming lives on a day to day basis. The Cholera outbreak has almost reached a state of emergency as 100 related deaths have been reported in Harare, Chitungwiza, Kariba and Chinhoyi in less than two months. Budiriro has been the hardest hit with the highest reported deaths emanating from the disease. Such deaths are unacceptable and criminal, and further loss of precious lives resulting from the disease are a clear sign of negligence of duty on the part of the ministry of Health and Child Welfare who seem eagerto cover up the extent of the health crisis in Zimbabwe.
We, Members of Restoration of Human Rights Zimbabwe and residents of Budiriro hereby demand that;
The following state and non state actors immediately takes steps to rectify the current water crisis and outbreak of cholera that is causing untold suffering in Budiriro and Zimbabwe in general;-
- Supply clean water that has been treated continuously to Budiriro suburb and other affected areas
- Stop neglecting the streams of sewer flowing all over streets, public places and backyards of our houses.
- Formulate a transparent billing system that is reasonable
Harare City Council immediately takes the following steps;-
- Collect refuse and any other garbage timeously
The State through the Ministry of Local Government;
- Conducts a comprehensive audit of the causes of the current water crisis in Budiriro and all affected areas in Zimbabwe.
- Closely monitor the management of water by ZINWA.
The State through the Ministry of Health and Child welfare;
- Decisively act to combat the Cholera outbreak in Budiriro and other areas affected by the disease.
- Capacitate the current health centers in Budiriro by providing the necessary medical supplies and personnel to try and contain the Cholera outbreak immediately.
- Set up satellite clinics in all affected areas so as to relieve pressure on the available clinics and referral hospitals which are failing cope with hundreds of victims contaminated by the disease.
- Closely monitor the health situation in Budiriro and all suburbs which are affected by the outbreak.
- Take immediate responsibility for the collapse of the health sector and most state hospitals such as Parirenyatwa and Harare central Hospital are operating well below capacity and reportedly turning away people to private hospitals.
Signed on 5 and 6 November 2008
Restoration of Human Rights Zimbabwe.
P.O Box 8719
Tel: +263 4 744593
Mobiles: +263 912 426638, +263 912 713410