November 23, 2008

Docs say Zimbabwe covering up cholera

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is trying to cover up the extent of a cholera epidemic in the country, doctors say.

Medics protesting outside the Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare were beaten by riot police last week as they called for Mugabe to provide drugs and intravenous drips for cholera victims, The Sunday Times of London reported.

The doctors said the government is paralyzed by the cholera crisis and is only interested in covering it up so as not to show any weakness while negotiating a power-sharing agreement with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

Zimbabwe says 44 people have died, but the World Health Organization said Friday the true number was 294 dead, while the aid agency Doctors Without Borders said 1.4 million more were at risk and thousands may die because of crumbling sewer systems, The Times said.

We know that many hundreds of people are dying, but the government is only concerned with concealing the extent of the problem, Barnabas Mangodza, executive director of the Harare Residents Association, told the newspaper. They say they are not permitted to declare a national disaster.