Zimbabwean police “beat doctors, nurses” as cholera kills 36 more

Harare/Johannesburg - Zimbabwean riot police beat striking doctors and nurses at a Harare hospital on Tuesday and sent them running for cover in wards, witnesses said, as reports emerged of dozens more dead in a fast-spreading cholera outbreak.

The protest took place at Parirenyatwa general hospital where around
200 doctors and nurses, from that hospital and Harare General hospital,
held a demonstration to demand better pay and equipment.

Witnesses told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa they saw police armed with
assault rifles, tear gas and batons beat some of the protestors. The
protesters carried placards saying: ‘We want drugs in our hospital’ and
‘enough is enough!’

Parirenyatwa, the country’s largest hospital, and Harare General are
both effectively closed because of a long-lasting strike over pay and
conditions by staff.

Observers say the city’s health services have effectively ground to a halt as the country’s economic disaster accelerates.

The doctors and nurses are demanding to be paid in foreign currency,
instead of the near worthless Zimbabwe dollar. They are also demanding
the restoration of basic equipment levels.

Syringes, surgical gloves, even toilet paper, are running low or have
run out at hospitals across crisis-hit Zimbabwe, where a outbreak of
cholera has now spread south to the border with South Africa.

In the southern border town of Beitbridge, 36 people have died in four
days of the disease, a local doctor told the state-controlled The
Herald newspaper.

The border crossing into South Africa is the busiest in Africa,
thronged daily by thousands of poor Zimbabweans either fleeing hardship
or stocking up on basic commodities such as soap and cooking oil they
can no longer obtain at home.

The town’s hospital has cleared out all other patients to make the
institution a cholera treatment centre, where 431 people had been
admitted and more deaths are expected, The Herald reported.

Independent medical organizations have warned for years that Zimbabwe,
which is wracked by hyperinflation, food shortages and a breakdown of
basic services, is sitting on a ‘cholera time bomb.’

Over 150 are estimated to have been killed in outbreaks of the disease this year.


Post published in: Analysis

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