By Alex Bell
07 December 2012
Zimbabwe’s capital city remains on high alert because of the ongoing spread of typhoid, with at least five related deaths registered in Harare since October.
These latest deaths have been recorded mainly in the Glenview suburb where a fresh outbreak was reported in October, a year since the first outbreak in Harare in 2011. Residents in Dzivarasekwa have also been warned about an outbreak of the disease there, where the local clinic has been transferring about 15-16 people to Beatrice Infectious Hospital everyday since last week. According to a local residents association, the main bulk of the patients have been pupils from Nhamburiko Primary school.
Harare City Health Deputy Director Dr Prosper Chonzi said other new cases have also been reported in Mabvuku, Tafara and other suburbs that have no access to clean water.
“The fight against typhoid which began in the city last year is far from over as we continue to record fresh outbreaks,” he said.
Typhoid cases have been reported in different parts of Zimbabwe since last year, with the worst affected areas being the densely populated suburbs around Harare’s centre, including Kuwadzana and Mufakose. More cases have been reported throughout the year in Bindura, Mashonaland Central and Norton and Zvimba in Mashonaland West. Chitungwiza and Kadoma have also reported serious outbreaks with the local authorities being blamed for failing to provide clean water.
The latest outbreak in and around Harare brings the number of suspected cases registered across the country to about 5,000. In February this year the Health Ministry admitted it was not on top of the situation, with a critical lack of medicine and clean water hampering treatment and prevention efforts. Many local councils too have been unable to provide proper sanitation to their residents, blaming broken down sewerage systems and water pipes for this failure.
Dr. Rutendo Bonde, the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights, told SW Radio Africa on Friday that until lasting measures to combat water shortages, water provision and sewage maintenance, diseases like typhoid will continue to be a threat.
Bonde meanwhile said that there are basic measures of prevention that can be adopted if possible, including following simple sanitation routines. She said measures like hand washing are critical to stop the disease spreading further.