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The health crisis in Zimbabwe, which has suffered from food shortages,
The health crisis in Zimbabwe, which has suffered from food shortages, an AIDS epidemic and its worst cholera outbreak in decades, has deteriorated with over 500,000 requiring urgent medical treatment, local media said.

The deadly cholera outbreak in the southern African country has so far left over 3,600 people dead since August and infected 69,000 others, while Zimbabwe's health system has totally collapsed, according to the United Nations.

"Now seven million Zimbabweans are in need of emergency food aid, over 500,000 patients are in need of urgent medical attention and if these people are not attended to they will die in the next few months," the Zimbabwe Times newspaper quoted Manuel Lopez, who heads the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) mission in Zimbabwe.

"This is a visible manifestation of the broader crisis in Zimbabwe. The health system that used to be the best in the region is now seen like that in a conflict country in the absence of war", he said.

MSF said that their medical personnel are treating around 75% of all suspected cholera cases in the country and over 40,000 people are receiving HIV treatment.

The organization also stressed that life expectancy in the country had dropped to 34 years as a result of Zimbabwe's poor health service, malnourishment, as well as the AIDS epidemic that affects "one in five adults."

In Zimbabwe, which has in recent years become a focus of international concern over widespread human rights violations, some 80% of people lack access to safe and clean water, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) earlier said.

UNICEF warned that the outbreak of cholera, which is spread by drinking contaminated water, could "get even worse due to a deteriorating sanitation system."


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