[DEBATE] : (Fwd) Water crisis in Zimbabwe - doctors appeal
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Mon Sep 22 19:34:17 BST 2008
(With calls like this, progressive activists will become more aware of
the dire health/water conditions described below, and likewise, will
issue similar statements about the crises in their sectors, so that the
elite transition engineered by ex-SA president Mbeki and the neoliberal
call for austerity, state budget cuts and civil service shrinkage are
met by countervailing bottom-up pressure for a responsible state and
more public sector jobs to deliver the goods so desperately needed.)
Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights
Urgent Action Needed to Address Water Shortages and Breakdown in Sanitation
19 September 2008
A serious health crisis currently looms over Zimbabwe's urban areas due
to a severe shortage of running water in most areas. The Zimbabwe
National Water Authority's (ZINWA) failure to treat and pump adequate
supplies of water has left most urban homes dry and forced residents to
rely on unsafe supplies of water. This coupled with a breakdown in the
sanitation system (burst sewage pipes and lack of refuse collection and
proper disposal) is threatening the health of millions on Zimbabweans.
The new Government must address this crisis as a matter of urgency. It
is a matter which cannot wait for resolution of differences or 'sticking
points'. Public service provision has been inadequate for several years
and requires urgent and comprehensive remedial action.
Access to safe drinking water and to adequate sanitation are human
rights and not privileges of the Zimbabwean population. They are
determinants of health which if not made available can result in
outbreaks of diarrhoea, cholera and dysentery that are life threatening.
Lives have already been lost to cholera in Chitungwiza and health
centres in Harare and Bulawayo are burdened by numerous cases of
diarrhoea on a daily basis. It is highly likely that the number of
deaths in Chitungwiza, currently reported at 12 individuals, is much
higher, and that this is but the tip of an iceberg of much more
morbidity. This has not been communicated to the public.
Outbreaks of cholera at any time are symptomatic of serious structural
problems within the system of public works. They are more common when
rains have resulted in flooding or overload of drainage systems. An
outbreak in the middle of the dry season is particularly disturbing.
The public has a right to be fully informed and updated on:
(1) what measures are being taken to address the water and sanitation
(2) what measures are in place to prevent and manage outbreaks of disease.
It is not adequate for the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare to
respond to disease outbreak only after it has occurred. It is paramount
that it works in conjunction with other ministries concerned, such as
that responsible for water resources, and ZINWA, to ensure that disease
is prevented and that Zimbabwean's right to the highest attainable state
of physical and mental wellbeing is respected.
ZADHR calls for an urgent, coordinated and comprehensive response from
the new Government to this crisis in water and sanitation.
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