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Health expert urges typhoid caution

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By Brenna Matendere

COMMUNITY Working Group on Health (CWGH) executive director Itai Rusike has urged Harare and Bulawayo residents to exercise caution following fresh reports of a typhoid outbreak in the two cities.

The outbreak of typhoid comes at a time diarrhoea cases are surging in Bulawayo.

In an interview with NewsDay yesterday, Rusike said both residents and local authorities of the two cities should now be very cautious after the reports.

“The persistent and recurrent outbreak fears of typhoid fever in Bulawayo city and Harare gives a poor reflection of the health and development of the country,” he said.

“In view of the ongoing and persistent typhoid outbreaks, residents are encouraged to visit health facilities for any febrile or vague illness for early treatment. Treatment of water at the point of use by boiling or using aqua tablets remains important looking at the continued failure by the city authorities to avail water.

“The threat and risk of other typhoid outbreaks exists as long as the conditions for transmission persist.”

Added Rusike: “As CWGH, we are still encouraging boiling of water at household level and treatment of water using treatment chemicals where possible. We appeal to the city of Harare and Bulawayo to collect garbage regularly and to treat water and sewage effectively.

“There is need to continue emphasising to communities the importance of food and personal hygiene especially promoting hand washing.

“The typhoid vaccine that was administered to residents in the typhoid hot spot districts a few years ago remains a complementary measure and not a replacement to WASH [water, sanitation, hygiene] interventions, and these need to be implemented even as the population receives vaccination.”

Harare City Council director for health Prosper Chonzi at the weekend said authorities were on high alert for
typhoid.

“We have received reports of typhoid fears in Sunningdale area and we are now on high alert. We have since deployed our health officers to conduct surveillance in the reported areas,” he said.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on Friday last week reported that diarrhoea cases in Bulawayo had passed the 1 800 mark.

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