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Published: December 28, 2008
By Moses Muchemwa
Bulawayo (ZimEye)-International aid agencies have warned of a deepening humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe, with a rise in child malnutrition and cholera deaths.
In a new report, aid agency Save the Children, said acute child malnutrition in f Zimbabwe has increased by almost two-thirds compared with last year.
Lynn Walker, the UK-based agency’s Zimbabwe director, said “some children are wasting away from lack of food”.
The report says 18 000 tonnes of food is needed for January and the United Nations has estimated that 5.5 million people – half Zimbabwe’s population – are in need of food aid.
Cholera continues to spread rapidly in Zimbabwe where food, medicine, fuel and cash are in short supply.
The World Health Organisation has also announced that 1 518 people have died of cholera and a total of 26 497 cases have been recorded since the start of the outbreak in August. WHO said more than two-thirds of deaths occurred in December.
The percentage of cholera patients dying from the disease has risen to 5.7% from 4% at the beginning of the month, WHO said. Normally only 1% of patients die in large outbreaks the UN agency said.
The Ministry of Health on Christmas day indicated that new infections are occurring in all parts of the country despite massive international aid efforts to stop the disease.
President Robert Mugabe’s regime has acknowledged the collapse of Zimbabwe’s health system, but he also claimed earlier this month that the epidemic had been brought under control and that there was “no cholera” in the country.
(Moses Muchemwa is a journalist and partner with the ZimEye. He can be contacted at email@example.com)