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. China donates 500,000 US dollars to Zimbabwe for cholera: report

by Staff Writers
Harare (AFP) Dec 24, 2008
China has donated 500,000 dollars (357,930 euros) in cash to Zimbabwe's government to fight a cholera epidemic that has killed nearly 1,200 people, a state daily reported Wednesday.

"We initially intended to donate cholera vaccines worth 500,000, but there were some technical problems in the distribution and storage of the vaccines," China's deputy ambassador to Zimbabwe, He Meng is quoted as saying.

"Therefore we decided to donate in cash so that government can purchase vaccines on the local market or neighbouring countries," he said.

China shared the same concern as the international community over the cholera epidemic and was "highly sympathetic to problems facing Zimbabweans", He said.

Speaking at the same function, Zimbabwe's health minister David Parirenyatwa said the cholera outbreak was under control in most areas, despite new cases, the Herald reported.

However, the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) warned Monday that the epidemic was not under control, as the death toll from the disease rose to 1,174.

"The disease is still popping up in the country which means it is still not under control," UNICEF representative in Zimbabwe Roeland Monasch told a press conference in Geneva by telephone.

Almost 3,000 new cases have been diagnosed since the last UN figures were published five days ago, Monasch said, taking the total number of confirmed infections to 23,712.

The previous toll had been 1,123, meaning that 51 new cholera deaths had been confirmed since Thursday.

Zimbabwe's cholera epidemic, the latest crisis to hit the troubled southern African state, is compounded by the country's erratic water supply, uncollected refuse and dysfunctional sewer systems.

The country has been in political crisis since elections in March when the long-ruling ZANU-PF party lost control of parliament and Mugabe was pushed into second place by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the presidential vote.

Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, pulled out of a run-off over violence against his supporters.

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