HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsSystem absolutely clueless on state of public health

System absolutely clueless on state of public health


IF there is one thing that the ongoing typhoid saga has revealed, it is that government officials have no clue what is going on in the country.

Comment: NewsDay Editor


It did not have to take a typhoid outbreak for bureaucrats to visit Mbare and Chitungwiza for them to have an appreciation of the state of public health in the country.

Mbare Musika has always been a health time bomb and it is only a miracle that more diseases have not been recorded in the area.

Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa was quoted saying the country would not be able to get rid of cholera and other water-borne diseases as long as conditions, such as those at Mbare Musika, prevailed.

Either Parirenyatwa is feigning shock or he is absolutely clueless, as Mbare Musika has been in its current state for years and the government has not even lifted a finger.

The situation is likely to get worse at the market and other such areas across the country due to overpopulation, as more people are likely to turn to vending because of the current economic situation.

This will mean that the number of people will overburden the existing infrastructure, such as toilets and water facilities, leading, ultimately, to a public health nightmare.

It does not help that places like Mbare suffer periodic water cuts, while the sewer system is literally at breaking point, once again due to the overpopulation of the suburb.

In such cases, rain acts as a trigger for diarrhoeal infections and even malaria, as water collects and provides a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

So, while Parirenyatwa and others in the inter-ministerial committee are still shocked by the conditions at Mbare Musika, they can be best advised to start preparing for increased malaria infections and let us hope this time they will not be caught off-guard and are already preparing preventive measures.

The debate over typhoid has been clouded in politicking and seeking to score cheap points, but it is time the country moved beyond that and started dealing with the causes.

No matter how painful and the consequences, Mbare Musika cannot be allowed to continue operating as it is, as new vending sites have to be opened, while at the same time ensuring there is adequate water and ablution facilities.

Vendors in the area should also take ownership of the market and be asked to either clean it up every evening or contribute to the cleaning effort.

The place is also in desperate need of depopulation and the stalls have to be upgraded to cater for the volumes of people that go there on a single day.

Parirenyatwa and his Local Government counterpart, Saviour Kasukuwere, have no reason to be shocked, as the state of Mbare Musika is barely a secret, but something in the public domain.

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