Diarrhoea outbreak hits Harare

BY Phyllis Mbanje

An outbreak of diarrhoea has been reported in parts of Harare’s Glen View, Budiriro and Glen Norah suburbs where over 22 people, mostly children, have been affected by the disease. The three high-density suburbs were epicentres for the cholera outbreak which claimed over 54 people late last year.

Harare City Council health director Prosper Chonzi confirmed the outbreak, saying since last week they had been noticing an increase in the number of diarrhoeal cases from clinics in those three suburbs.

“Glen View B is the worst affected. These cases have mostly been in areas where people have not had water for about a week and they have resorted to using water from shallow wells, some of them unprotected. This might be the reason,” he said.

Chonzi, however, noted that they had been examining stools from patients and so far they have not confirmed whether there is cholera or typhoid.

“We just believe they are infectious diarrhoeas, but it is too (early) for comfort, so we are advising people in those areas to use water sparingly and also use treated water.

“If you are not confident of the supplier of water, just boil it, use aqua tablets to treat the water and make sure you practice good personal hygiene,” he said.

The city health director also said because of limited water supplies people were resorting to open defecation.

“Because there is no running water, people tend to use the bush relieve themselves; that worsens the situation. In our health promotion messages, we urge people to practise good personal hygiene and make sure they use treated water,” he added.

Chonzi said they have 24-hour reaction teams working around the clock, surveilling any health-related issues.

Chonzi urged anyone, particularly those with children suffering from diarrhoea in these areas — because they succumb faster than adults, to go to the clinic and get screened for free.

Meanwhile, civic organisation Community Water Alliance said most of the affected areas were experiencing frequent burst sewers.

The chairperson for the organisation Hildaberta Rwambiwa said the outbreak was fast getting out of hand in Glen View.

The organisation’s focal person for ward 32 Joylene Nyachuru said sewer bursts and blockages have not been attended to for weeks now as council’s Glen View district office had no fuel to attend to emergencies.

“It seems they are failing to have a permanent solution to sewer bursts and blockages challenges,” she said.

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