Health issues threaten New Zealand's tour to Zimbabwe

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Wellington, Dec 27 (ANI): The New Zealand cricket team is preparing to pull out of the rescheduled tour of Zimbabwe after the collapse of Zimbabwe's public health system which means that major Western governments are advising against non-essential travel to the troubled African state.

New Zealand Cricket chief executive Justin Vaughan and New Zealand Cricket Players' Association boss Heath Mills yesterday flagged major concerns about the proposed trip, which has already been delayed once.

The foreign ministries of Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom have warned that all public hospitals were experiencing shortages of staff, water, power, medicines and equipment, Staff.co.nz reports.

Hospitals were unlikely to offer treatment for certain illnesses or assistance in an emergency, some basic prescription medicines (including insulin) were not available, and in the event of a serious accident, a medical evacuation to South Africa would be necessary.

"The pragmatist in me suggests that there's still another two years to go in the current international playing programme and we could look to postpone again," Vaughan told the Sunday Star-Times.

"Medical facilities are a concern. You can go to countries and protect yourself against infectious diseases and the like as long as you've got a decent standard of hygiene and healthcare services available to you.

"We're not in possession of all the facts quite yet, but it appears that [health] could be quite a significant concern. Certainly, NZC is non-negotiable on the matter of putting our team at risk at any time," he said.

Mills said he would be fearful for player safety if the medical situation didn't improve in Zimbabwe.

New Zealand originally postponed the tour for a year when the government vetoed the trip on political grounds, a decision that protected NZC from being fined for breaching a touring contract. (ANI)

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