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Cholera: Zim on high alert

Eighteen people are still receiving treatment following the latest cholera outbreak in the country which claimed the lives of four people in Chegutu.

By Phyllis Mbanje/Nhau Mangirazi

Mashonaland West provincial medical director Wensilus Nyamayaro said they were not yet out of the woods as around 200 people attended the funeral of a member of the Muslim community who have their own way of cleaning a deceased’s body.
“They did not use any protective gear and that is how the other three got infected. Those who were hospitalised are recovering well,” he said.

The old woman was said to have been sick and was bed-ridden.

Nyamayaro said water was scarce in Chegutu and many people had resorted to shallow unprotected wells.

“We will only know for sure after two weeks to accommodate the incubation period after which those infected will show,” he said.

The first victim, Laita Mungulisia (80) died on January 8 while three men who cleaned her body according to the dictates of the Muslim religion fell sick three days later and two succumbed to cholera. The other one also later died in hospital.

The director for health watchdog, the Community Working Group said the cholera/typhoid outbreaks should be handled in a multi-sectoral manner with resources committed to address the causes.

The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) said the current outbreaks of cholera and typhoid were a confirmation of how communities were exposed to unsafe and unclean water.

“Central government should compel local authorities to prioritise access to clean, safe and potable water by residents through increasing spending towards capital investments, as opposed to the current allocation of 90% of municipality budgets to recurrent expenditure,” said ZADHR.

Meanwhile, six food outlets were shut down in Kadoma last week following a joint operation by Health ministry, Environment Management Agency, Karoi town council and Hurungwe district administrator.

The operation was carried out to avoid the spread of cholera from Zambia where there is an outbreak.

“We closed six food outlets and left only one which had facilities such as sinks, running water and toilets. These public food outlets are vehicles of transmission of water-borne diseases, including cholera,” said one of the officials.

Karoi town council was also under pressure to reopen its pay toilets within the central business district and Chikangwe bus terminus as their closure fuelled open defecation by travellers and vendors.

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