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Friday, December 5, 2008

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Zimbabwe declares national health emergency

By ANGUS SHAW
The Associated Press
Thursday, December 4, 2008; 5:00 PM


HARARE, Zimbabwe -- Zimbabwe declared a national emergency over a cholera epidemic and the collapse of its health care system, and state media reported Thursday the government is seeking more international help to pay for food and drugs to combat the crisis.

The failure of the southern African nation's health care system is one of the most devastating effects of the country's overall economic collapse.

Facing the highest inflation in the world, Zimbabweans are struggling just to eat and find clean drinking water. The United Nations says the number of suspected cholera cases in Zimbabwe since August has climbed above 12,600, with 570 deaths, because of a lack of water treatment and broken sewage pipes.

Cholera is an infectious intestinal disease that is contracted by consuming contaminated food or water. Its symptoms include severe diarrhea.

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