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Friday, May 24, 2024

Suspected cholera cases surge

Story by Abigirl Tembo, Health Editor

THE City of Harare is sitting on a health time bomb after more cholera cases were recorded in the capital amid acute water shortages.

More than 1 000 suspected Cholera cases have been recorded in Harare, with 80 percent of them coming from Kuwadzana suburb, which is also facing acute water shortages.

“For over a month, raw sewer has been flowing in our houses. We have even recorded cholera cases from our household and we are living in fear. We implore the government to come to our rescue,” said a Kuwadzana resident.

“The sewer situation is very bad and the fact that we have no running water makes it worse. Look at our children, everyday they will be playing in infected sewer and it’s very unhealthy,” said another.

Health and Child Care Minister, Dr Douglas Mombeshora, Harare Mayor, Councillor Ian Makone and Harare City Health Director, Dr Prosper Chonzi were in Kuwadzana this Tuesday to assess the situation after the death of eight people in a short space of time.

“What brought us here is the increase in the number of cholera cases that are coming up here in Harare. We know the epicentre was Buhera, but now the figures in Buhera have come down but yesterday we had 90 new cases of cholera in Harare and 80% of those new cases came from Kuwadzana so we decided to come and see so that we map a way forward together.

“What we have seen is that there are quite a number of things responsible for this outbreak.First and foremost, safe drinking water is not enough. Several reasons are being given, one is low capacity of Morton Jaffray pumping station again the boreholes are contaminated and water conveyance times some of them are old and leaking. We also visited some houses where sewer is flowing, those are very worrying conditions.

“We want to work together with the City of Harare so that we map a way forward together.We have short term plans and the long term plans are basically hygiene and sanitation that includes water reticulation enough for the residents’ sewer disposal and water conveyance in a proper way. In the short term we need to ban all illegal food vendors on the streets, we would want to advocate for the destruction of all these fields which are producing these vegetables being watered by sewer,” said Dr Mombeshora.

“Now we have confirmed cholera cases in almost all the suburbs in Harare, we have over 50 confirmed cases in Kuwadzana alone and the situation seems to be getting a bit out of hand and the patients presenting at our treatment centres are very sick which means they probably delayed in seeking treatment, this has resulted in over eight deaths which occurred in the last few days in Kuwadzana,” noted Harare City Health Director, Dr Prosper Chonzi.

Harare Mayor, Councillor Ian Makone weighed in,”We want to continue emphasising that it’s about infrastructure. The infrastructure of Harare was designed for a city less than half a million people so I am not surprised that the infrastructure both for water and sewer has reached a stage where it is has now collapsed. Working with central government, I do hope that we are able to mobilise necessary resources for the sewerage reticulation system and the treatment plans as well as the water distribution system down to the last mile which is the domestic. It’s a lot of money, but I am sure if we collaborate we can achieve this.”

145 suspected cholera cases were recorded countrywide this Monday bringing the total number of cases to 7 267, while the cumulative suspected deaths are at 143.

98 people are hospitalised.

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