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Zimbabwe Health Minister Appeals for More Help to Combat Cholera Epidemic

Zimbabwe’s minister of health and child welfare says a quick resolution of the political and economic crises is needed in order to address the many challenges facing the country.

David Parirenyatwa spoke as a cholera epidemic has killed more than 400 people with more than 11 thousand cases reported across Zimbabwe since August.

City officials in the capital, Harare, have reportedly offering free graves for victims of the epidemic. With more than a 200 million-percent inflation rate, most Zimbabweans cannot afford the nearly 30 dollars it costs for a grave.

Parirenyatwa told VOA Zimbabwe’s crumbling medical system was doing all it can to combat the cholera epidemic.

“We’ve got 10 provinces in the country, and nine of the 10 have got cholera. But you see what’s happening now that as Minister of Health and Child Welfare, together with out partners, we are trying extremely hard to try and cope with the situation,” he said.

Parirenyatwa appealed for support from the international community to manage water and sanitation.

“The biggest challenge that we have is to get adequate resources to contain this outbreak, and we are trying to mobilize resources from within the country and from outside the country. We are therefore making it clear both locally and internationally that we do need these resources, particularly resources that make us have the first principal of containing cholera which is having adequate water and adequate sanitation,” Parirenyatwa said.

He said Zimbabwe was grateful for what the international community has done so far.

Parirenyatwa denied that the discrepancy between government and independent figures in terms of the numbers of people who have died from the disease was due to an information blackout in the early days of epidemic.

“We could never ever do that because what affects us here affects also the countries around us. Clearly the figures that we published, we worked together with the professional body, the WHO, the World Health Organization. Whatever figures we get here we push them to WHO and they crosscheck. That’s how we work. May be the figures may be not as precise as people want, but this is what we get from our provinces as we collect data,” he said.

He emphasized the need for clean water and good sanitation to fight the epidemic. But Parirenyatwa denied the scope of the disease was necessitated by Zimbabwe’s dilapidated infrastructure.

“What is happening here is that you can not be able to contain cholera as long as you cannot control and sanitation properly, and we all aware that for whatever reason the economic situation has got challenges. And we are saying to ourselves as a small country that we are trying the best we can to cater for our people in terms of the health delivery system in this country,” he said.

Parirenyatwa said a quick resolution of the political and economic crisis is needed in order to address the many challenges facing Zimbabwe.

“There’s no doubt that political solution is needed to adequately address the challenges that we face in this country. And I hope that sooner rather than later we will find the political solution in this country that would address the suffering of our people in this country. As long as we don’t have that, we will struggle and struggle,” Parirenyatwa said.