Cholera Is Raging, Whatever Mugabe Says

Zimbabwe nears total collapse as health sector shuts down
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 12, 2008 6:51 AM CST
A young boy prepares to drink clean water from a borehole in Harare, Thursday, Dec. 11, 2008.   (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
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(Newser) – Robert Mugabe says that the cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe has ended, but health experts say that 60,000 people could succumb to the disease, and half of the country's population is at risk. Zimbabwe's socioeconomic collapse has frighteningly accelerated, writes Celia Dugger in Harare, and daily life has become impossible. "Much like the organs of a severely dehydrated cholera victim," writes the New York Times reporter, "Zimbabwe's most fundamental public services are shutting down."

The inflation rate is now estimated at 8 quintillion percent—an 8 followed by 18 zeros—and teachers, doctors and even soldiers have stopped coming to work, their salaries rendered worthless. With a collapsed public health system, mortality rates among cholera victims are five times higher than in other countries. And the Mugabe regime has made matters worse: Recently, the government seized control of the water supply, which is now contaminated with human excrement.