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Executive Director visits Zimbabwe, with new support for health workers fighting cholera

© UNICEF Zimbabwe/2009/Myhren
UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman with Zimbabwean children at a water point in Budiriro, site of one of the 70 UNICEF-supported treatment centres set up in response to a cholera outbreak.

By Guy Hubbard

HARARE, Zimbabwe, 17 January 2009 – UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman, today announced that the United Nations will make available $5 million for the health sector in Zimbabwe. Speaking at the end of her two-day visit to Zimbabwe, Veneman highlighted the need for major stakeholders to put children at the forefront of their collective agenda.

The visit by Veneman, the first by a head of a UN agency in three years, comes at a time when Zimbabwe is faced by an unprecedented cholera outbreak that has claimed more than 2,000 lives over the last four months – and by a heightened humanitarian crisis that has seen the collapse of the health and education sectors in the country.

Response to the outbreak

During her visit, Veneman visited the Budiriro treatment centre, one of the 70 centres set up in response to the raging outbreak.

© UNICEF Zimbabwe/2009/Myhren
A child sits atop a water tank provided by UNICEF in Budiriro, Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe’s cholera outbreak has been aggravated by failing social services here. Recognizing the impact of cholera on vulnerable women and children, UNICEF has responded with urgent assistance for centres such as the one in Budiriro.

By supplying safe water and water-purification tablets to affected communities and supporting cholera treatment centres, UNICEF is working to ensure minimal loss of life to a waterborne disease that is not only preventable, but curable.

Increase in orphan vulnerability

While in Zimbabwe, Veneman also visited an orphan care project in Mabvuku. The project was set up as a catch-up learning facility for orphans who have not been enrolled into the formal school system.

In the face of the mounting problems in Zimbabwe, orphan vulnerability has increased in the areas of food security, school attendance and health care. Under its programme of support in Zimbabwe, UNICEF is helping over 250,000 orphans to meet their health and education needs.

Veneman also held top-level discussions with President Robert Mugabe, and met with the Minister of Health and Child Welfare, the Minister of Education, Sport and Culture, and the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.




17 January 2009:
UNICEF's Guy Hubbard reports on Executive Director Ann M. Veneman's two-day visit to Zimbabwe.
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