At the Seke South clinic, a few miles outside Harare, a steady stream of desperate cholera victims arrive seeking treatment.
The facility serves the dormitory suburb of Chitungwiza, where more than one in five of those who develop the disease die.
It is normally treatable and the international average for cholera
fatalities is one per cent of those infected, but Robert Mugabe’s
Zimbabwe offers virtually no help to its own people, even as it blames
British "genocide" for the epidemic.
There was only one foreign doctor on duty on the clinic, and a handful
of nurses, none of them from Zimbabwe’s health ministry. In a single
day this week four patients died there.
Chitungwiza, a sprawling high-density area, provides ideal conditions
for the disease to spread. Clusters of flies swarm over years of
uncollected garbage, pools of water collected along rutted lanes after
a summer shower, and the afternoon breeze wafting across the township
carries the stench of the sewage works a mile away.
United Nations statistics show that 21 per cent of those infected in
Chitungwiza die, as opposed to two percent for the rest of Harare and
Beit Bridge, the border town where South Africans send in fresh water,
drugs and medical personnel.
Alpha Chinbiri 32, a middle-class housewife was sitting at the broken
fence around the clinic and said her husband had woken up ill. "We
rushed him here, but we have heard nothing since.
"I can’t get inside and I can’t get any information about him. There is
no food in this clinic and they will not let our food in, so I am very
worried." At least 20 relatives of other patients were at the fence.
The clinic has opened its maternity section to cholera victims, and
Unicef has erected a tent giving the township 300 available beds.
"There is no manpower here, that is the problem," said a nurse.
By Peta Thornycroft, Zimbabwe CorrespondentPost published in: News