ZLHR flags govt failure to end cholera outbreaks

… as disaster claims over 200 lives since outbreak in February

By Staff Reporter

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) have blamed government for continued failure to reign in a recurring cholera disaster with the latest outbreak claiming over 200 lives since February, according to authorities.

In a statement Tuesday, the lawyers group described the contagious disease as medieval and urged robust measures to remedy the health crisis.

“ZLHR is saddened that the ongoing deaths owing to cholera, which is a medieval disease, are a result of dereliction of duty by public officials and have brought desolation to the affected families and communities and the nation at large.

“It is extremely worrying that such a medieval and preventable disease continues to claim lives in Zimbabwe, 15 years after the country was afflicted by a deadly cholera outbreak, which was eradicated centuries ago by some countries.”

Zimbabwe last month declared a state of emergency in Harare over a cholera outbreak with suspected cases hovering in their thousands.

The current outbreak is the worst since the 2008-09 outbreak that claimed more than 4 000 lives with over 100 000 treated for the disease.

The lawyers group blamed the recurrent disaster on both central and local governments’ failure to “invest in and manage basic water, sanitation infrastructure and public health facilities”.

“The failure by central and local government to swiftly respond to the cholera epidemic through providing basic health services, medical treatment and services, clean running water and sanitary facilities to people, is an unacceptable failure of leadership and represents a clear failure by local authorities and government to uphold their constitutional obligations as provided in the constitution and other regional and international instruments.”

ZLHR urged both tiers of government to take steps to contain the raging epidemic and repel future outbreaks as well as provide the necessary sanitary facilities among communities ravaged by the health calamity.

Added the group, “Urgently provide all affected people with rapid free medical assistance and treatment.

“Increase budget allocation of water, sanitation and hygiene to achieve 15 percent allocation to health as provided for in the Abuja Declaration to enhance the quality of life of citizens.

“Seriously embrace their social and economic rights obligations provided in the constitution and guarantee progressive realisation of the right to healthcare, the right to safe, clean and potable water for everyone and the right to a clean environment that is not harmful to people’s health and their wellbeing.”

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