KWEKWE – A diarrhoea outbreak has hit the City of Kwekwe with 104 cases having been recorded from October 26, the Environmental Health Department (EHD) has revealed. That represents a sharp increase from last month’s figure of 59.
Of the 104 cases 13 children aged up to two-and-half years are reported to have died, while others were treated and discharged at most council clinics in the high-density suburbs of Mbizo and Amaveni.
The local authority and the EHD are jointly investigating the cause of the outbreak and have since sent stool specimen of the affected children for assessment in Harare to trace the viral strain causing the outbreak.
According to minutes of a Health Departmental meeting of October 31, Health Services director Phyllis Gochera underscored the need for health education. An official in the department confirmed young mothers were failing to take care of their sick children.
“In most cases the children who passed away were those of young mothers who I am sure don’t know how to prepare and administer salt and sugar solution. We are now teaching mothers of this basic mothering technique so we don’t end up losing lives unnecessarily,” said the official.
Council said numbers of those infected have decreased following the health campaigns at clinics.
“While we urge those with children suffering from diarrhoea to urgently seek medical attention, we also want mothers to know they should quickly use salt and sugar solution the moment they are aware of the problem,” said an official in the health department.
EHD suspects council could be responsible for the outbreak because most of the reported cases in Amaveni and Mbizo had occured next to untreated dumpsites.
“The dumpsites need to be treated to eliminate any possible link to such outbreaks. As it stands, they represent a serious health risk to people living around them,” reads part of the report. However, Gochera dismissed allegations saying she had visited the Amaveni dumpsite and discovered it was not as bad as reported and felt residential hygiene was lacking and therefore health education was important.
Three children reportedly died in August when another outbreak hit the city, this time caused by the rota virus.