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Tsvangirai: Zimbabwe cholera crisis 'man-made'

  • Story Highlights
  • World Health Organization: 2,755 cholera deaths in Zimbabwe since last year
  • Tsvangirai: Govt. negligence resulted in failure to provide necessary facilities
  • Epidemic aggravated by erratic water supplies, broken water and sewer pipes
  • Mugabe's government have now declared cholera a national emergency
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HARARE, Zimbabwe (CNN) -- Zimbabwe's opposition leader called the cholera outbreak in his country a "man-made crisis," as new figures released Thursday showed the death toll had soared to more than 2,700.

Morgan Tsvangirai

Morgan Tsvangirai tours a cholera ward at Budiriro Polyclinic in Harare Thursday.

Some 2,755 have died and 48,623 people are suspected to have been infected with cholera since last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

Opposition party leader Morgan Tsvangirai, speaking to reporters, pointed a finger at the Mugabe government. "Cholera in Zimbabwe is a man-made crisis. The problem we have here is coupled with (the) fact of negligence on the part of government to provide the necessary facilities. It shows the collapse of the health delivery system," said Tsvangirai.

The Movement for Democratic Change leader's comments came after he toured some of the worst affected areas in the country's capital, Harare.

Zimbabwe's cholera epidemic, which started in August, has been aggravated by erratic water supplies, shortages of water purification chemicals, broken water and sewer pipes and uncollected garbage.

Cholera is an intestinal disease cause by bacteria in contaminated water.

The epidemic was followed a month later by a strike by doctors and nurses demanding a review of their salaries. They are demanding that archaic hospital equipment be replaced and that medicines be available in hospitals. The health emergency comes at a time when Zimbabwe is mired in the worst economic crisis it has faced since it gained independence from Great Britain in 1980.

Last week, the United Nations' Children's Fund (UNICEF) gave $5 million to Zimbabwe's ailing health sector to help end the industrial action by health personnel.

As Tsvangirai was visiting the cholera affected areas, some residents could be seen getting water from the wells and rivers. Most suburbs in Harare have had no water for close to two weeks, forcing residents to depend on shallow pits and rivers for drinking water.

The Zimbabwe National Water Authority was quoted by the state-owned media Saturday attributing the dryness to a water pump which had broken-down. The areas particularly affected include the townships of Glen Norah, Glen View and Budiriro.

"I am here with my kids for the last two days," said Ennie Musararei, a mother of three at Budiriro clinic. "It (cholera) just started after we drank water from a well. We thought it was safe to drink since it was covered by a metal sheet."

President Robert Mugabe's government have now declared cholera a national emergency, so that international organizations such as UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders and Red Cross can gain access. But death toll has continued to increase daily.

"This week alone has witnessed a sudden increase of patients," said a nurse at Budiriro clinic. "I think it is mainly because of the rains and dryness of the suburbs over the past week or so."

Earlier this month, Zimbabwe's health minister, David Parirenyatwa, said the death toll was likely to increase as the country is in its rainy season.

The meteorological office in Zimbabwe has predicted floods in some parts of the country.

All About CholeraRobert MugabeMorgan Tsvangirai

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