Econet In Cholera Prevention And Treatment Support

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Econet Wireless has mounted a massive public awareness campaign to fight the burgeoning cholera crisis in Zimbabwe, which is reported to have already claimed 20 lives.
The company has also begun to offer material support to the public health teams working to combat the epidemic.
Econet Wireless Zimbabwe CEO Mr Douglas Mboweni yesterday said the company had partnered with the responsible authorities to fight the disease.
“We have partnered with the government, through the Ministry of Health and Childcare’s department of Epidemiology and Disease Control, to offer centrally coordinated material support to the nationwide effort to combat the cholera outbreak” said Mr Mboweni.
“We are sad at the deaths that have been reported due to the outbreak of this disease and we will play our part by using our resources and our reach to help prevent the spread of the disease and save lives” Mr Mboweni said.
He said the support included preventive items, such as hand sterilization material, aqua tablets and special protective clothing for health workers, as well as case management supplies that include antibiotic medicines and IVR fluids.
On Tuesday the Minister of Health and Childcare, Dr Obadiah Moyo, declared an emergency on the capital Harare, opening the door for an all-out mobilization of resources – funding, medicines, manpower and an information, education and awareness campaign – to fight the spread of the disease, whose ‘epicenter’ has been identified as the sprawling high-density suburbs of Glen Norah and Budiriro.
Mr Mboweni said Econet had already begun sending out free SMS alerts to the public, educating them on how the disease is contracted and how it spreads, how to avoid contracting the disease, how to prevent its spread and how to treat the disease.
Cholera is a highly infectious disease caused by drinking water or eating food contaminated by the vibrio cholera bacterium. Its major symptoms are severe diarrhea and vomiting, which leads to dehydration – that can result in death in a matter of hours, if not treated.
Cholera can be treated using oral hydration solution (ORS) which is made up of a salt and sugar solution to address the deadly dehydration. It can also be treated using antibiotics that attack the vibrio bacterium. Early detection and treatment are critical to save the lives of cholera patients.
Reports say the current outbreak of the disease was triggered by contamination of communal boreholes in the Budiriro and Glenview high density suburbs by the cholera bacteria.
The frequent bursting of ageing clean water and sewer pipes in the affected areas and in many suburbs in Harare has been blamed for the sporadic outbreaks of typhoid, cholera, dysentery and other water-borne diseases in the capital and around urban settlements throughout the country.
According to reports yesterday, the disease has spread to the Midlands, Mashonaland Central, Masvingo and Manicaland provinces.
Among the key behaviors and guidelines in the prevention of cholera from the MoHC and the WHO is water, food and personal hygiene. People should boil or treat the drinking water, and eat washed fruit and vegetables. They must wash their hands with water and soap (or chemical hand sanitizers) before touching food, and must eat properly cooked food while it is still hot. They must wash their hands after using the toilet.
Mr Mboweni, whose company has offices in the major cities and towns in Zimbabwe and whose business operates a nationwide shop network, said Econet had also taken immediate steps to ensure that its staff and customers are safe from the disease.
“We have started an education and awareness programme among our staff and stepped up hygiene and sanitation standards in our all our outlets,” he said.
Part of the efforts included availing antibacterial hand sanitization liquids by the entrances and within all the company’s facilities, keeping supplies of ORS treatment kits and setting up a hotline to report suspected cases of the disease.
Econet has in the past worked with the government, development agencies (such the World Health Organization), local and international NGOs to respond to public health crises. It also works with the Civil Protection Unit to warn of, and mitigate against national disasters.
In 2008, Econet created the National Healthcare Trust through Higherlife Foundation – a non-profit organization whose social investment programmes it funds – to respond to the cholera crisis at the time. It has over the years invested millions of dollars funding public healthcare projects in collaboration with key players in the public healthcare delivery space.

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