Target: Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe
Goal: Address most recent typhoid outbreak in Zimbabwe
The town of Mabvuku, Zimbabwe recently became the site of a serious outbreak of typhoid fever. This terrible disease could have easily been avoided, had the people of Mabvuku been given access to potable water and had their sanitation infrastructures not been criminally neglected for decades. In addition to many other human rights abuses over the last 27 years, Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe has allowed the water in his capitol city to become toxic and dangerous for people to drink.
Typhoid fever is a terrible bacterial disease transmitted by contact through food or water with the feces of an infected person. Its progression is swift and painful. Victims often go from perfectly healthy to dead within a month. Symptoms include a high fever, bloody nose, headache, cough, and abdominal pain in the first week. This leads to a higher fever, distended stomach, and delirium in the second week. By the third week, most patients experience severe diarrhea, leading to the dehydration that ultimately causes their death in the fourth week.
Due to the lack of proper sanitation infrastructure, typhoid thrives in communities like Mabvuku where people are sometimes forced to defecate outdoors and drink water from shallow wells that can easily become contaminated. Similar outbreaks of diseases such as cholera have previously devastated the population of Zimbabwe. One epidemic in 2009 killed more than 4,000 people. According to the Human Rights Campaign, “diarrhea is responsible for ten percent of deaths for children under ten in Zimbabwe.”
Although the Zimbabwean national government has acknowledged that there is a health crisis in the country due to a lack of sanitation infrastructure, no significant action has been taken to address these issues. Likewise, the local government of Harare has done very little to improve conditions. Sign the petition below to urge the President of Zimbabwe to take action.
Dear President Robert Mugabe,
The recent outbreak of typhoid fever in Mabvuku is a tragedy. Typhoid is a devastating illness, but also a wholly preventable one. When people are forced to drink water contaminated with sewage it is no surprise that they get sick. Improvements in sanitation and access to clean water would do wonders to end this outbreak and prevent future outbreaks of this terrible disease.
I am writing today to urge you to send help to Mabvuku in the form of medicine and clean water in the short term, and in the long term to improve the sanitation system that is allowing people to become infected throughout your country.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Babakathy via Wikimedia Commons