Zimbabwe cholera outbreak spreads

WHO report says Zimbabwe's cholera epidemic is a long way from being contained.

    Zimbabwe's cholera death toll reaches 2,755, with 50,000 people infected [AFP]

    Tony Maryon, the head of the International Federation of Red Cross Societies (IFRC) team in Zimbabwe, said on Friday: "Because of the severity of this outbreak, we fear that it will take many more weeks to get it under control."

    Aid agencies have been preparing for a worst-case scenario in which 60,000 people become infected with the water-borne disease, in part due to the rainy season and a weakened healthcare system.

    The IFCR had launched an emergency appeal on December 23 for $9.2 million, but it is currently 60 per cent under-funded.

    "As it stands now, we won't be able to continue our operations beyond the next four weeks," Maryon said.

    Doctors' strike

    The battle against the epidemic has also been hampered by a strike over pay by Zimbabwe's doctors and other municipal workers.

    Cosmas Bundu, head of the municipal workers union, said: "We can't afford to continue to receive our salaries in Zimbabwe currency, which is not buying anything."

    Last week, the country's central bank issued a 50 billion Zimbabwe dollar note. It is worth $1.25 on the black market.

    Zimbabwe faces the world's highest official inflation rate. The municipal workers join teachers, doctors, nurses and even bus drivers in demanding to be paid in US dollars.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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