Govt’s failure to provide hospitals with water “irresponsible”

via Govt’s failure to provide hospitals with water “irresponsible” | SW Radio Africa by Nomalanga Moyo September 12, 2013

A human rights group has deplored the ongoing water shortages which are affecting service delivery at some key hospitals as ‘irresponsible’ and ‘totally unacceptable’.

A leading newspaper, The Standard, this week exposed the extent of the water shortages at Parirenyatwa and Harare hospitals where visitors were said to have resorted to smuggling water into the wards for use by patients.

The paper also reported an overpowering stench emanating from the hospitals’ overflowing toilets leading to fears that the city is sitting on a ticking health bomb.

Following these revelations, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights criticised the government for its indifference to the right of citizens to clean water.

The rights group said government had shown no commitment to ensure, through the relevant Water Ministry and the Zimbabwe National Water Authority, adequate and regular water provision.

A statement by the group said: “The chronic water shortage at these two hospitals is totally unacceptable. It undermines the progressive realisation of the right to water and negatively impacts on patients’ ability to progressively realise the best attainable state of physical and mental health.

“Whilst the country continues to be plagued with perennial water shortages, which is particularly striking in the urban areas, this situation persists with no commitment from the authorities to fully address this, and no accountability for its failure in this regard,” the statement said.

Last year, following the outbreak of typhoid and cholera in Harare, the lawyers group said it was holding the government, the Harare City authorities and ZINWA, responsible following the deaths of scores of residents from the waterborne diseases.

The group reiterated this position, adding that “investigations must be made into culpability for this disruption of service and failure to deliver and those responsible must be made accountable forthwith.”

For close to a decade, Zimbabwe’s major cities have battled serious water shortages but with little political will to effectively address this.

A year-long cholera outbreak in 2008-2009 killed more than 4,000 people and infected nearly 100,000 others.

“These wanton infections are intolerable and shameful, and the State’s failure is merely a replication of other high level failures,” said the lawyers group.

Dr Elopy Sibanda, a lecturer at the UZ, said the unavailability of water at health institutions is very worrying: “Institutions need the water to maintain basic hygiene. It is also essential for use in the laboratories, operating theatres and also for laundry services among others.

“We are dealing with vulnerable patients whose immunity is already compromised and so are likely to catch any disease that might break out as a result of lack of access to clean food or water,” Sibanda added.