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Zimbabwe Health Care System 'In Ruins' Says US Physicians Group

The U.S. based organization Physicians for Human Rights has called on the United Nations to assume stewardship of Zimbabwe’s collapsed health system to prevent further loss of life.

The Cambridge, Massachusetts, based group also urged that the humanitarian disaster in Zimbabwe, where a cholera epidemic compounded by the collapse of the state health system late last year has claimed nearly 2,000 lives, should be referred to the International Criminal Court to consider indicting top Harare officials for crimes against humanity.

"The collapse of Zimbabwe's health system in 2008 is unprecedented in scale and scope," said the report, entitled "Health In Ruins: A Man-Made Disaster in Zimbabwe."

The preface to the report states that the government of President Robert Mugabe "has used any means at its disposal, including politicizing the health sector, to maintain its hold on power. Instead of fulfilling its obligation to progressively realize the right to health for the people of Zimbabwe, the government has taken the country backwards, which has enabled the destruction of health, water, and sanitation - all with fatal consequences.

Correspondent Benedict Nhlapho of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reported from Johannesburg where the physicians group issued the report.

A Zimbabwean health expert said the report from Physicians for Human Rights restates what activists in the country have been saying for years as the health system deteriorated.

Executive Director Itayi Rusike of the Community Working Group on Health told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the international community should take a larger role in helping revive Zimbabwe’s moribund health sector.

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