Unicef gives Zim $5m for cholera

HARARE - The UN Children's Fund will give five million US dollars to Zimbabwe's ailing health sector to help bring striking doctors back to work to fight a worsening cholera epidemic, the agency's chief said.

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Doctors and nurses at public hospitals have been on strike for months,
demanding better wages after hyperinflation turned their salaries into
pittances.

Aside from the strike, Zimbabwe's public hospitals have little medicine
or equipment, while also struggling with the power and water cuts that
afflict much of the country.

Ann Veneman, head of UNICEF, told reporters on a visit to Harare that
the money would be used to pay health workers "incentives to be able to
come to work.

"The United Nations will make available five million dollars for the
health sector in Zimbabwe as the country is battling an on-going
cholera outbreak and the effects of collapsing social services," she
said.

"The economy in Zimbabwe is crumbling, with highest inflation rate in
the world at 231 million percent. Over half the population is receiving
food aid. Health centres have closed, and when the school term starts
there is no guarantee that there will be enough teachers," Veneman said.

Veneman said the cholera epidemic that began in August was not yet
under control, and urged aid workers to put "children on the forefront
of their collective agenda."

Zimbabwe's cholera epidemic has been aggravated by erratic water
supplies, shortages of water purification chemicals, burst water and
sewer pipes and uncollected refuse in most residential suburbs.

Sapa-AFP

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