GOVERNMENT says it has activated its disease surveillance machinery after receiving alerts from the World Health Organisation (WHO) over the outbreak of the deadly Zika virus in South America.
Health and Child Care deputy minister, Aldrin Musiiwa told Parliament yesterday that, although Zimbabwe was still safe, the ministry had activated its monitoring mechanisms.
“It has been agreed by WHO that Zika is now a pandemic, which can spread all over the world, but at the moment we do not have Zika in Zimbabwe. We are taking precautions and monitoring systems are in place to detect Zika,” he said.
“However, it is not completely new, as it was discovered a long time ago in Uganda and that is where it was first isolated. The current outbreak is in South America, Brazil in particular and Colombia. It is a viral disease caused by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which are different from the virus Plasmodium vivax that causes malaria.”
Musiiwa said Zimbabwe had mosquitoes that cause Zika, but the difference between the Zika and malaria-causing mosquitoes was that the Zika ones feed during the day, while malaria ones attack their prey at night.
Zika causes defects in unborn babies.
Higher and Tertiary Education deputy minister Godfrey Gandawa was also quizzed by MPs to explain why the two ministries of education were haggling over ownership of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (Stem) programme.
Gandawa denied there were clashes, adding that the $4 million required to pay fees for Stem students would be drawn from the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund.
He said his ministry would pay the fees for Stem once the schools have submitted records indicating the number of beneficiaries.