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Cholera Epidemic And Health System Disarray Deepen In Zimbabwe


International and non-governmental organizations were working nonstop in the Glen View and Budiriro suburbs of Harare treating victims of an expanding cholera epidemic, but the death toll continued to mount due to the numbers of patients presenting themselves.

Nurses working without doctors labored to save hundreds at the Budiriro Polyclinic.

Medical workers and families said treatment was coming too late in many cases, as reporter Sylvia Manika of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reported from Budiriro.

Elsewhere in Zimbabwe's troubled health sector, striking medical workers rejected an offer from the Ministry of Health proposing to provide them with hampers of food, free transport to work and a review of salaries if they would return to their jobs in state hospitals.

The medical workers instead demanded to be paid in U.S. dollars or other hard currencies.

Zimbabwe's state hospital system has virtually shut down after walkouts by doctors, nurses and support staff over wages, working conditions, and a lack of essential supplies.

The State-controlled Herald newspaper said Health Minister David Parirenyatwa had offered the food hampers, buses to take health care workers to their jobs and a pay review. It said he urged medical staff to get back to work until more "lasting solutions" could be found

Parirenyatwa told the newspaper that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe had committed US$1.5 million for the purchase of drugs and other medical supplies.

Reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reached Secretary-General Simba Ndoda of the Hospital Doctors Association, who said hundreds of workers meeting at Harare Hospital on Friday resolved that the government must admit its failure to manage the national health system and seek assistance from the international community.

In Washington Thursday, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer reproached the Harare government for failing to maintain the health infrastructure

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

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