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Harare Establishes Cholera Command Centers, Cautions On Rainy Season Impact

The government of Zimbabwe has declared all district hospitals cholera "command centers" to help coordinate the battle against the disease which has claimed more than 1,600 lives, the state-controlled Herald newspaper said Monday.

The official paper quoted Health Minister David Parirenyatwa as saying that the government will remain vigilant against the disease despite reports from some quarters that the rate of increase in new cases of the disease is declining in some parts of the country.

But Dr. Parirenyatwa told reporters at a news conference Monday that the epidemic could get worse as the rainy season intensifies, Reuters reported. He said flooding could promote the spread of the disease and hamper efforts by relief workers to treat victims.

The latest World Health Organization figures put the total number of cases in Zimbabwe at 33,212 which resulted in 1,640 deaths as of Jan. 3. Both figures are likely to have risen since the WHO report was placed on the U.N. organization's web site.

Harare doctor Billy Rigava, a member of the Zimbabwe Medical Association, commended the government for setting up command centers, saying this will help deal with the disease.

But Chief Executive Officer Frank Donaghue of Physicians for Human Rights, in Boston, said Harare should be concentrating on reviving the collapsed national health care system.

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