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Bulawayo on high alert for cholera

by Staff reporter
23 Nov 2023 at 06:42hrs | Views
WHILE Bulawayo has not recorded any cholera cases in the past four months, local health officials are on alert, urging residents to practise good hygiene and desist from shaking hands at public gatherings.

Cholera is a water-borne disease that spreads through drinking water or eating food contaminated with the cholera bacterium which causes severe diarrhoea and vomiting.

Zimbabwe recorded the worst cholera outbreak in 2008 and the last major one in 2018. The current outbreak began in February this year and since then, the Government has been implementing multi-sectoral interventions to curb the spread of the disease.

According to the latest statistics from the Ministry of Health and Child Care, 4 609 suspected cases had been recorded across the country with 935 as confirmed cases.

Bulawayo Provincial Medical Director Dr Maphios Siamuchembu said since the onset of the outbreak, the city has only recorded a total of 12 suspects, of which four tested positive for rapid tests and three positive.

He said while the city has not recorded any cases since June, residents should practise hygiene as a preventive measure.

"We encourage residents to maintain hygienic standards when cooking and they should avoid drinking water from unsafe water sources. If they get any symptoms of cholera such as diarrhea, you should quickly visit a hospital or clinic,' said Dr Siamuchembu

Bulawayo City Council health director Dr Edwin Nkosinathi Sibanda-Mzingwane said the city has not had any cases of cholera in the last four months.

"Citizens should practise high hygienic practices. There are basic things like washing our fruits and vegetables before eating them. We should always wash our hands or sanitise them before eating anything and avoiding shaking hands with people at public gatherings," he said.

Residents across the city expressed concern over the prolonged water shedding which has resulted in some suburbs going for days without water.

This is forcing some residents to resort to unhygienic water sources in swampy areas as the city's water woes continue to mount.

A Chronicle news crew yesterday visited selected suburbs in the western areas and observed long winding queues for water at boreholes, and unconventional wells.

In some suburbs, some residents fetched water from unhygienic water sources dotted in swampy areas. Some women were spotted washing clothes using the water from holes that they had dug around the smelly swamps.

Ms Cynthia Ncube, a resident in Magwegwe West suburb, said the situation was dire and they feared an outbreak of diseases if the problem persisted.

 "We don't have running water for almost a week now and we are relying on boreholes and unhygienic water sources. In fact, residents with houses that are situated in high-lying areas are most affected," she said.

Mr Nkosana Moyo, a vendor operating along Masiyephambili Drive, said they did not have toilets nearby to use hence they are relying on the nearby bush to relieve themselves during the day.

Miss Snenhlanhla Mkhwananzi from Gwabalanda said although health experts are advising everyone to buy vegetables and fruits from supermarkets, a lot of people cannot afford to do that because vegetables are cheaper outside.

Ms Nomalanga Sibanda of Makokoba said the worsened water challenges in the city presented a new health challenge in the communities they were living in.

She said they had gone for more than a week without running water in the suburb. Ms Sibanda said some residents are relieving themselves in nearby bushes.

"You cannot use the bush because it stinks. Some of us are vendors and we sell fresh produce and without water, we lose business," she said.

Bulawayo has gone for several months on a 72-hour weekly water-shedding schedule due to a low dam level.

Source - The Chronicle