Cholera outbreak in Mt Darwin, Limpopo

AT least two people have died and 26 cases of suspected cholera have been reported at Mt Darwin Hospital.

BY KUDZAI MUCHENJEKWA/NHAU MaNGIRAZI/ REX MPHISA

All cases were reported at Mukaradzi Mine, with the majority of the affected being artisanal miners, district medical officials told journalists who are on tour of the province.

District medical officer George Mapiye was said to be locked up in a series of meetings to ensure rapid response to the outbreak.

Addressing the media, district nursing officer Anna Chinyemba confirmed two deaths from suspected cases of cholera.

“We have had two deaths, one died while on the way to hospital and the other died at the institution. We now have 26 cases of people whom we think have contracted cholera,” she said.

The outbreak of cholera was not experienced in this area when it broke out in Harare a few months ago.

Chinyemba, however, could not conclusively state that it was cholera.

“Right now, we cannot confirm if its cholera. We have sent tests to the lab, and we are expecting the results tomorrow (today). The symptoms, however, point to cholera,” she said

“As a hospital, we can say for now, that we are prepared for the outbreak, but the rate at which the numbers are increasing, we will need assistance,” Chinyemba said.

Mukaradzi is home to about 7 000 artisanal miners.

In a related case, South African authorities have confirmed that two Zimbabwean migrant workers have tested positive to cholera after returning from their rural homes.

Spokesperson for the Limpopo province health department, Neil Shikwambana, said one case involved a Zimbabwean migrant worker who works at a game farm in the Blouberg area.

“The patient recently travelled home and upon his return, felt unwell and sought medical attention, and was admitted to Helen Franz Hospital. After a specimen was taken, a case of cholera was confirmed,” Shikwambana said.

Another migrant farm worker from Zimbabwe, working and living in Alldays, Limpopo, was diagnosed with cholera earlier this month.

“The department has already conducted a thorough investigation in the areas where the two patients are staying, and officials are on the ground in the area, doing health promotions,” Shikwambana said.

Meanwhile, the Darwin district Aids co-ordinator Veronica Nyamudoka has pleaded for more partners to help in the implementation of HIV programmes.

Nyamudoka told journalists that HIV testing kits were in short supply, and funding partners should chip in and assist the district so that it can fight HIV andAids.

The tour, which was being sponsored by the National Aids Council, is a precursor to the International Aids Day set for commemoration on December 1, and this year’s event will be hosted by Mashonaland Central province.

“We have many challenges, which include lack of partners to implement HIV programmes. We want more partners that will help us spread the word on HIV and Aids prevention. We also want testing kits, because sometimes we fail to test the people as per our target number due to lack of these testing kits,” Nyamudoka said.

MT Darwin has an estimated population of 202 000, with more than 13 000, inclusive of children, being on antiretroviral drugs.

Among the key population targets in Mt Darwin are artisan miners at places like Mukaradzi, which is a hot spots.

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