Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Public Health system has collapsed says MSF

From CBC (Canada)

The Nobel Prize-winning agency Médecins Sans Frontières, also known as Doctors Without Borders, called on both international donors and the Zimbabwean government to do more.

"You've all heard about the disastrous cholera epidemic," said Dr. Christophe Fournier, MSF's international president, who spent four days touring Zimbabwe.

"However catastrophic this epidemic is, it is only the most visible manifestation of a much broader crisis in the whole country. Actually the whole public health system in Zimbabwe is down, it has collapsed."

World Health Organization figures released Monday indicate 77,650 people in Zimbabwe have been infected with cholera, a water-borne disease, since August.

So far, 3,688 people have died from the disease, which causes severe diarrhea.

The country also faces food shortages, malnutrition, collapsed infrastructure, political violence, displacement within Zimbabwe and to neighbouring countries, as well as an HIV epidemic, MSF said in the report released in Johannesburg, South Africa.

There was no immediate comment from the Zimbabwean government.
Urgent measures needed

Malaria could be the next epidemic, the group said, because malaria season is approaching and people cannot afford to take preventive steps such as using insecticide-treated nets.

"The situation in Zimbabwe is causing inexcusable suffering," Fournier said.

"Urgent measures must be taken to ensure Zimbabweans have unimpeded access to the humanitarian assistance they so desperately need. The Zimbabwean government must guarantee that aid agencies can work wherever needs are identified and ease bureaucratic restrictions so projects can be properly staffed and drugs quickly procured."

the government requires aid organizations to funnel all aid through them...they say it is so that the aid money doesn't go to dissadent groups and is more efficiently spread around, but most people suspsect it is so the government can blackmail opponents: YOu oppose us, and you starve/die of disease.

As for the public health system: It has been in a state of collapse for almost a year...

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