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Rights Lawyers Say Government And Local Authorities Responsible For Cholera Deaths

5 months agoThu, 21 Dec 2023 04:47:32 GMT
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Rights Lawyers Say Government And Local Authorities Responsible For Cholera Deaths

Human rights lawyers are calling for the government and local authorities to be held responsible for the deaths caused by the spreading cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) have accused the authorities of neglecting their responsibilities in handling the outbreak. This is the third cholera outbreak in the country this year, with cases reported in all ten provinces. Since February 2023, there have been 200 cholera-related deaths and 130 hospitalizations.

The ZLHR stated that the ongoing cholera outbreak is a clear indication of the devastating consequences of failing to provide basic necessities to the people, and the government must act quickly to protect lives. The lawyers said:

ZLHR CONDEMNS CHOLERA DEATHS AND FAILURE TO CONTAIN RECURRENT OUTBREAKS

ZIMBABWE Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) implores central government and local authorities to contain the outbreak and spread of cholera in Zimbabwe, which has led to the unnecessary deaths of several people across the country. According to Ministry of Health and Child Care, more than 200 people are suspected to have fallen victim to the cholera outbreak in several parts of the country, while more than 130 people have been hospitalised since February 2023, when the first cases were publicly confirmed.

ZLHR is saddened that the ongoing deaths owing to cholera, which is a medieval disease, are a result of dereliction of duty by public officials and have brought desolation to the affected families and communities and the nation at large. It is extremely worrying that such a medieval and preventable disease continues to daim precious lives in Zimbabwe, 15 years after the country was afflicted by a deadly cholera outbreak, which was eradicated centuries ago in some countries. It is an indictment on both local and central government that Zimbabwe is still stalked by a medieval disease such as cholera. ZLHR holds both local and central government accountable for the recurrent cholera outbreaks and the unwarranted deaths of people because of their failure to invest in and manage basic water, sanitation infrastructure and public health facilities. The failure by central and local government to swiftly respond to the cholera epidemic through providing basic health services, medical treatment and services, clean running water and sanitary facilities to people, is an unacceptable failure of leadership and represents a clear failure by local authorities and government to uphold their constitutional obligations as provided in the Constitution and other regional and international instruments.

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To arrest the cholera epidemic and prevent recurrent outbreaks of the primitive disease, ZLHR implores local and central government to;

Urgently take corrective measures to prevent further deaths from cholera, contain the epidemic, and prevent further outbreaks;

Provide clean running water and sanitary environs to all affected communities and others at risk of infection to halt the spread of the deadly disease;

Urgently provide all affected people with rapid free medical assistance and treatment;

Increase budget allocation on water, sanitation and hygiene to achieve 15% allocation to health as provided in the Abuja Declaration to enhance the quality of life of citizens;

Seriously embrace their social and economic rights obligations provided in the Constitution and guarantee progressive realisation of the right to healthcare, the right to safe, clean and potable water for everyone and the right to a clean environment that is not harmful to people’s health or their well-being.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has intervened by setting up cholera treatment centres throughout the country. The WHO aims to improve access to critical care and prevent further deaths and the spread of the disease in vulnerable communities. The WHO representative to Zimbabwe, Jean-Marie Dangou, emphasized the importance of upgrading treatment centres to provide timely and effective care for cholera patients in rural areas. Jean-Marie Dangou added:

By expanding treatment capacity, improving hygiene and equipping healthcare workers, we can save lives and contain the outbreak.

To prevent the spread of cholera, the government of Zimbabwe has imposed a ban on gatherings in areas where the disease is common. The Health and Child Care Minister, Douglas Mombeshora, emphasized the importance of involving the community to effectively combat the outbreak. He said the government received equipment from the World Health Organization (WHO) and plans to distribute it to the areas most in need.

Cholera is a disease that spreads through contaminated water and food, causing severe diarrhoea and vomiting. Unfortunately, it has become prevalent in Zimbabwe. The ban on gatherings is one measure to control the disease, but the lack of access to safe drinking water remains a concern. In certain parts of the capital city, Harare, borehole water has been deemed unsafe for drinking.

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