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ZIMBABWE: Forced evictions could aggravate disease - health experts

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

JOHANNESBURG, 6 July (PLUSNEWS) - The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) is concerned that an ongoing government crackdown on informal settlements and markets is likely to aggravate disease.

Of particular concern to ZADHR was the negative impact of the campaign on children and families infected or affected by HIV/AIDS.

The association warned in a statement that the blitz would result in "the exacerbation of the HIV epidemic, as community structures are fractured and dispersed", and predicted an "inevitable emergence of widespread drug-resistant HIV as treatment programmes are disrupted".

ZADHR said Hatcliffe Extension, on the eastern outskirts of the capital, Harare, previously home to an estimated 15,000 people, served as an example.

Among those affected were 180 orphaned infants at a crèche run by catholic nuns, 375 orphans and vulnerable children attending the local primary school and 103 HIV-positive adults on antiretroviral treatment, who were being cared for by a local clinic that has now been closed.

ZADHR is appealing to regional and international medical associations to apply "whatever influence they have" to seek an immediate end to President Robert Mugabe's 'Operation Restore Order'.

At least 370,000 people have been left homeless since Zimbabwe's "Operation Restore Order" kicked off on 19 May.


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