HomeLocal NewsGovt fears typhoid epidemic

Govt fears typhoid epidemic

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The government has warned the typhoid outbreak that has hit Harare could swell as the same poor sanitary conditions in the capital are prevalent countrywide while there were no adequate resources, including funding, to fight the waterborne disease.

There were also fears the epidemic could affect prisons, but a Harare City Council committee has reportedly been set up to look into the matter.

Health and Child Welfare minister Henry Madzorera yesterday told reporters water from all sources in Harare was not safe to drink without boiling.

“The typhoid crisis is an ongoing raging condition that is giving us sleepless nights,” Madzorera said.

“The ministry is sensitising all Zimbabweans on the typhoid outbreak, including its potential to spread beyond Harare. The same poor water and sanitation conditions in Harare prevail in most of our urban areas and other parts of the country. The high mobility of our people also makes it easy for diseases such as typhoid to move with them.”

He added: “We strongly urge treatment of all household water by boiling or chlorination with equatabs (water purification tablets) at the point of use. Most boreholes have been noted to be contaminated with enteric coli bacterial forms and reticulated water has also failed the quality tests in some instances. The progressive deterioration of public health infrastructure (water and sewage reticulation) has seen rare diseases like typhoid becoming more commonly encountered.”

World Health Organisation country representative Custodia Mandlhate said water in Harare was contaminated with human waste.

Madzorera spoke as the Harare City Council also warned unlicensed entertainment joints — Zindoga in Waterfalls and PaHuku (Hillside), among others — would be the next targets of its raids.

This followed a crackdown on open market vendors and closure of the popular joint, Mereki, in Warren Park D on Monday, after council claimed vendors were selling contaminated food, aiding the spread of typhoid.

“What we are doing as a city is to go around and make sure the facilities that sell food have good sanitation and if they don’t, we will close them down like we did with Mereki. Any facilities like Mereki in the city we will close down. We are not taking any joy in doing that and businesspeople can come to us with plans for sanitation on their facilities,” said town clerk Tendai Mahachi.

Harare mayor Muchadeyi Masunda last week said: “Residents should refrain from buying food items such as meat and fish from illegal vendors who usually operate in circumstances that are not exactly salubrious. I do not have to repeat what I have had occasion to say in the recent past about various dens of iniquity such as Mereki, Zindoga, Pennywise and Huku.”

In a related development, Mahachi said: “We said we won’t cut water supply because we have to protect people’s lives. Morton Jaffray (Waterworks) is running at about 630 megalitres a day and that’s what we are supplying to Greater Harare, that is Chitungwiza, Norton, Epworth and Ruwa.

“The demand is 1 200 megalitres a day. We need partners to work with to produce or construct new sources of water. At the rate at which the city is expanding, we will have a problem in the next three years and we will be in trouble.”

Typhoid is a systemic bacterial disease characterised by insidious onset of sustained fever, headache, malaise, a non-productive cough in the early stages and diarrhoea in adults.

Its mode of transmission is the faecal-oral route through ingestion of bacteria in food or water contaminated with human waste or urine of infected persons.

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