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'Unserviced stands blamed for Beitbridge cholera'

by Staff reporter
18 Jun 2023 at 08:34hrs | Views
BEITBRIDGE Municipality has said the occupation of Kwalu 2 residential area has fueled cholera cases as the area has not been fully serviced but has close to 50 families residing there already, with very few ablution facilities.

Beitbridge is battling cases of cholera that have been linked to the new suburb with consultations between the contractor, SDP Africa and the municipality underway.

"People have occupied an area called Kwalu 2 illegally because it is not yet complete, the developer has not yet handed over the project back to us as council.

When you hand over a project you should have done all the services required but, in this instance, it has not been done. This is when we had a cholera outbreak in March this year. The first case was recorded on 12 March at the cholera treatment centre.

Other cases then followed. We did our investigations on the ground to identify the cause of the disease and we found out that there was sewage that was spilling from other pipes in that area and it was spilling into a small stream where people were getting water," said Mr Pio Muchena, the municipality's environmental health officer.

He said following the discovery, the municipality then started supplying clean water to the Kwalu 2 community after 90 percent of cases were traced to the area. They also provided safe toilets so that they do not use the bushes as toilets.

"As we are doing our investigations, we are linking the cases to Kwalu 2. We have moved in with other stakeholders to do awareness campaigns and giving them clean water too.

We have partners that also came in with buckets and jerry cans that they gave to that community to enable them to store their water in clean containers," he said.

Mr Muchena said they were hoping that the contractor will complete the outstanding works as soon as possible to prevent the situation from spiraling out of control.

Unicef on the other hand has trained HIV and cholera focal persons saying marrying the two diseases is important as people with HIV have a compromised immune system that can easily be affected if they contract diseases like cholera.

Beitbridge District Aids Coordinator (DAC) for the National Aids Council (NAC) Mr Edward Mulaudzi said the programme was being implemented by NAC and supported by Unicef.

"We did the initial training in 2019 having realised that we have some people who are HIV positive and their immunity is compromised so if they contract cholera when their immunity is compromised, the effects are very bad.

So, we decided to have some focal persons within the district trained so that they can go door to door educating people especially those with HIV so that they take appropriate measures to prevent cholera.

"They teach them about hygiene, washing of hands so basically that is the reason behind cholera community champions, even if you are doing well in the provision of Antiretrovirals but if the infected people contract cholera, then there will be adverse reactions. So, Unicef decided to train HIV and cholera focal persons in the district," he said.

Ms Nomsa Nkala, one of the HIV and cholera focal persons who received training from Unicef said the training was essential as information had cascaded to the communities.

"I was trained in 2020 part of my job is moving from door to door educating the communities about health issues, especially during this period when there is a cholera outbreak in the district. We take our messages to HIV support groups, churches, gatherings and even at boreholes when people are collecting water.

We educate them about maintaining a high level of hygiene and eating clean and well-cooked hot food. We also encourage those on ART to take their drugs religiously, even those who are HIV-negative, we teach them about living in a hygienic environment to prevent the outbreak of diseases like cholera," said Ms Moyo.

She, however, said some of the challenges they come across was non-acceptance of health messages by the community in some cases.

"We visit homes that are drug dens and these people do not accept health information from community workers.

We also come across women who are into drugs who abandon their children and when we get to those homes we are forced to then attend to the children and take them to relevant authorities as we cannot just leave young children unattended. We also come across abused children, these are some of the things we encounter outside of our core roles," she said.

The community workers encouraged communities not to keep any person in the home if they have running stomachs or were vomiting as those were symptoms of cholera but should visit the nearest health centre.

Source - The Sunday News