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For Immediate Release

Health System Collapse Requires International Intervention, Concludes PHR Report

Cambridge, Mass - 01/13/2009

An international team of doctors and human rights advocates convened by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) to conduct an emergency assessment of Zimbabwe’s health crisis has found the health system is in utter collapse. The collapsed health care system threatens the people of Zimbabwe and in the entire region. In addition to the widely reported cholera epidemic, the report highlights increases in maternal mortality, growing malnutrition, disruptions in HIV/AIDS treatment, unchecked tuberculosis, and outbreaks of anthrax. This report highlights related human rights violations and explains why the Mugabe regime must be held accountable for this man-made disaster.

Johannesburg, South Africa January 13, 2009 – Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) has published a report showing how the cholera epidemic which ravages Zimbabwe is but one symptom of an utter collapse of the country’s health system, and documenting how the Mugabe regime’s human rights violations contributed to this man-made disaster.

"The report released today by Physicians for Human Rights further documents that the people of Zimbabwe are being denied the most basic of life’s necessities – access to healthcare, food, clean water, even life itself,” said Archbishop Desmond Tutu in a statement endorsing the report. "The world must take action against the Mugabe regime for these crimes against humanity.”

"Mugabe’s regime has violated international human rights and abrogated the most basic state function in protecting its people’s health,” said Frank Donaghue, CEO of Physicians for Human Rights and contributor to the report.

The preface to the report, co-authored by Justice Richard J. Goldstone, Mary Robinson and Archbishop Desmond Tutu questions: "What happens when a government presides over the dramatic reversal of its population’s access to food, clean water, basic sanitation, and healthcare? When government policies lead directly to the shuttering of hospitals and clinics, the closing of its medical school, and the beatings of health workers, are we to consider the attendant deaths and injuries as any different from those resulting from a massacre of similar proportions?”

Goldstone is former Chief Prosecutor, International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and a current PHR Board Member. Robinson is a former president of Ireland and is chair of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative. She also served the United Nations as a High Commissioner for Human Rights. Archbishop Desmond Tutu is Anglican Archbishop Emeritus of Capetown and Chair, The Elders.

Read the related Press Release Doctors Call Zimbabwe’s Ruined Health System a "Man-Made Disaster”
Download PHR’s Health in Ruins: A Man-Made Disaster in Zimbabwe (PDF): Full report - Summary
PHR released a short online video entitled La Fleuve du Mal which is available on YouTube.
PHR’s photographs are also available on Flickr.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.

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