By NQOBANI NDLOVU
BULAWAYO’s Queens Park suburb has recorded diarrhoea cases as more suburbs register outbreaks of the disease which claimed 13 lives in Luveve in July and infected nearly 2 000 people.
Water shortages, ageing water and sewer infrastructure have been blamed for the recurrent diarrhoea outbreaks in the city.
Auditor-General, Midlred Chiri, in a report tabled in Parliament, recently warned that Bulawayo risked an outbreak of water-borne diseases resulting from failure to manage sewage reticulation systems.
“The community health worker for Queens Park alerted the area environmental health officer over concerns that a number of people seemed to be suffering from diarrhoea in the area. The concern was investigated and confirmed,” a council health, housing and education report read in part.
However, no deaths were recorded with the report, adding that people were avoiding council clinics because they do not want to undergo COVID-19 testing.
“Indications were that the affected were not willing to visit health facilities for fear of being tested for COVID-19. They were assured that it was not standard procedure that everyone who came to the clinic was tested for COVID-19, therefore, they should be free to go to the clinic,” the report added.
“The community health workers were advised to encourage all affected to visit the nearest clinic for treatment as diarrhoea treatment was currently free. The area environmental health officer continued to monitor the situation.”
In her report, Chiri said persistent bursting of sewage pipes and failure by councils to attend to them could result in an outbreak of fatal diseases.
“Due to failure by the urban local authorities to attend to blockages within the stipulated eight to 24 hours, raw sewage is lost into the environment before reaching the treatment plants thereby contaminating water bodies,” Chiri said.
“The raw sewage flowing on the ground will mix with potable water thereby resulting in water-borne diseases. Furthermore, delays in the repair of sewer blockage/chokes will result in backflow of sewage increasing pressure on inlet pipes and joints or weaker points will give in to pressure thereby causing further blockages.”