At lease four people have died from the recent cholera outbreak which ravaged Chegutu town while 32 cases have been recorded in the past two weeks.
Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa confirmed the cholera related incidences which surfaced on 8 January after an 80 year female succumbed to the epidemic.
He noted that the spread of the disease emanated from a funeral of the elderly woman and has since affected several people in the mining town.
“To date there are 32 cases (30 suspected and 2 confirmed) and four deaths
“We think the index case was an 80 year old female who succumbed to the disease at home on the 8th of January 2018, subsequently people who attended the funeral started presenting for treatment at the hospital,
“A cholera test was done on the 19th of January 2018 on one of the deceased confirmed cholera. Two other samples tested positive for cholera and were confirmed at NRML. Chegutu District Hospital where the cases are seen being reported,” said Parirenyatwa.
One case was reported on the 12th of January, three cases on the 13th of January, five cases on the 15th and three other cases were recorded on the 16th of January 2018.
“On Saturday the 20th we had a surge of cases following a burial where the hospital reported a total 11 cases, the last two days only two cases were seen per day. In all 19 males and 15 females have been affected,
“It is very critical to note that all these suspected cases are all linked to funerals that occurred in the locality,”said Parirenyatwa.
He pointed at Chegutu’s continued shortages of water and the escalating number of undesignated vendors as major contributors to the outbreak of the disease in the area.
“Chegutu Municipality has a critical shortage of water due to aging water reticulation infrastructure like most towns in Zimbabwe, there is rampant vending in undesignated places,including selling of meat and fruits in pavements. People should desist from eating foods cooked or prepared in unhygienic conditions,” added the minister.
World Health Organization (WHO) Country Representative, Dr Mohammed Ayoya shared the same sentiments.
She said although Zambia is still struggling with the epidemic, some countries like Kenya, Malawi and Uganda have recorded successes,
” We urge people to practice good hygiene, wash hands before eating food,” she said.
Dr Parirenyatwa noted that all provinces have been put on high alert for cholera and all district civil protection committees has been activated countrywide.
Supervised burials are also being done and prohibition of consumption of food at funeral gatherings and shaking of hands as government encourages minimum contact at mass gatherings.
Monitoring of food vending in undesignated areas is being enforced including inspection of premises.
The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) urged local authorities and the government to institute far reaching reforms to the social service delivery sector in Zimbabwe.
“We believe paying attention to increasing financing to water, sanitation and hygiene and more particularly on infrastructure revamping, purchase of water purification equipment and consumable will go a long way in bringing recurrence of these water borne diseases to an end.
“As it stands, the current outbreaks are a testament to exposure of communities to unsafe and unclean water and environment which in themselves threaten the viability of the healthcare system,” said ZADHR in a statement released on Sunday.