By Tichaona Sibanda
7 January 2013
Close to half a million people in Zimbabwe were infected with diarrhea in 2012, according to the weekly Ministry of Health and Child Welfare disease monitoring report.
Released last week the report said 5 people died of diarrhoea in December with more than 9,000 others contracting the disease in that month.
A total of 281 died from the disease in 2012 while over 460,000 others developed the condition. Diarrhea is usually a symptom of an infection in the intestinal tract, which can be caused by a variety of bacterial, viral and parasitic organisms.
Infection is spread through contaminated food or drinking-water, or from person-to-person, as a result of poor hygiene. Diarrheal disease is treatable with a solution of clean water, sugar and salt, and with zinc tablets.
Our Harare correspondent Simon Muchemwa said while millions of dollars have been poured into improving access to drinking water in Zimbabwe in the last few years, most areas still have little or no access to clean water.
Muchemwa said: ‘The report by the Ministry of health also points to a total collapse of the water reticulation system in the country. In Harare alone, the city council needs $3 million a month for chemicals to get rid of pollution and raw sewage from Lake Chivero.’.
He explained that the disease usually spreads during the rainy season when families access water from unprotected sources.
‘We are having rains now in Zimbabwe and widespread unhygienic practices during water collection and storage, poor hand washing and limited access to sanitation facilities perpetuate the transmission of diarrhea in the local communities,’ he said.
Until the government and councils prioritise the basic human right of access to clean water, people will continue to die and , with diarrhea, it’s normally the children who die.