Zimbabwe’s cholera outbreak ignites calls for hygienic practices

Zimbabwe’s cholera outbreak ignites calls for hygienic practices

By Xinhua

HARARE: A Cholera outbreak in Harare has ignited calls for increased hygienic practices to prevent its spread as the city battles a shortage of clean water.

The epicentre of the outbreak is the high-density suburb of Kuwadzana, which registered nearly half of the reported cases, according to Michael Vere, Harare City Council‘s head of epidemiology and disease control.

Patrick Mutisi, a Kuwadzana resident, said the situation on the ground was alarming. “This very week, several people we interacted with were infected with cholera. We are deeply pained, we are deeply saddened, this is an easily preventable disease,” Mutisi told Xinhua on Sunday.

He said hygienic conditions, which are a necessity for the prevention of the disease, are not possible due to the scarcity of clean water in the suburb.

The city of Harare has been struggling to provide adequate tap water to the growing population, which has resulted in residents resorting to unclean sources.

“We only produce around a third of the required water supply in the city,” Vere told Xinhua on Sunday.

The water that the city is getting from Lake Chivero, Harare’s main source, is heavily contaminated and requires a lot of chemicals to treat it, he said.

“We also need to make sure that our sewer system is rehabilitated because the sewer system that we have in Harare is no longer able to cope with the population,” Vere said.

Douglas Mombeshora, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Health and Child Care, said that at least 12 lives have been lost with seven from Kuwadzana, which prompted a swift response from the government.

“There is a lot of movement of people to all areas of the country from Harare. That’s why we are mounting a huge response to this cholera outbreak so that we suppress the cases in Harare,” Mombeshora told reporters in Kuwadzana on Sunday.

To address the scourge of cholera, the government announced that it had approved a 12 million U.S. dollars budget for the national cholera outbreak response.

“We hope the government will intervene and supply us with water bowsers with treated water considering that we are affected by cholera, so that we can get clean water because we cannot afford to buy water,” said Gladys Masara, a street vendor in Kuwadzana.

Angeline Formoza, another Kuwadzana resident, said water has become a luxury in the suburb.

“Sometimes we can go for two weeks or three weeks without water, and in that case, we can’t flush toilets, that’s where the disease is originating,” she said.

Georgina Musiyazviriyo, another Kuwadzana resident, said the outbreak has invoked memories of a deadly outbreak in 2008 when more than 4,000 people succumbed to the pandemic.

“We witnessed people who were infected, some of them passed away, it’s very frightening, so we always try by all means to protect our health by drinking treated water, eating washed fruits, that’s what we are doing to protect our health,” she said.

The authorities are advising the public against going to unauthorized marketplaces, or public gatherings.

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