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Zimbabwe's young children hit hard by diarrhoea

by Staff reporter
25 Oct 2023 at 10:00hrs | Views
In townships throughout Zimbabwe, the shortage of clean water and the presence of deteriorating, rusty water pipelines are poised to exacerbate the spread of waterborne diseases as the approaching rainy season, often accompanied by flooding, draws near.

For Stanley Chuma, a vendor who leases a room in Cowdray Park, a densely populated township in Bulawayo, the impending rains present a looming crisis.

"In certain areas, people are resorting to open wells because we've been without water for over two weeks now," he lamented. "Consider the contaminants found in these open water sources. When the rains arrive, they will only bring more impurities to these wells, especially in more remote areas where open defecation occurs."

Chuma goes on to mention that a mere five liters of purified water cost approximately R38, making it prohibitively expensive for regular cooking. Many can't even afford such a steep price for drinking water.

According to sources within the local authority, the Bulawayo City Council (BCC), the predicament in Cowdray Park is a consequence of a malfunctioning water pump, which was reportedly being repaired at the time of this report.

The situation is even graver in Harare, where certain areas have endured over two decades without access to clean, running water.

In 2008, Zimbabwe was hit by a devastating cholera outbreak that stood as the worst in Africa, claiming the lives of 4,200 individuals.

Cholera has since become endemic in the capital due to outdated water infrastructure, a rapidly expanding population, severe droughts, and rampant government corruption and mismanagement.

This recent surge in waterborne diseases occurs amidst political discord within the government and local authorities, with ongoing disputes between the ruling Zanu-PF and the primary opposition party, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC).

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, in a piece for the state-controlled Sunday Mail, attributed the cholera situation to poorly managed local authorities and pledged government intervention to safeguard lives as part of a broader strategic initiative. He also promised the drilling of 35,000 boreholes across the nation before year-end.

The Ministry of Health and Child Care's most recent weekly disease surveillance report reveals an increase in cholera, typhoid, dysentery, and malaria cases across the country.

For the week ending on October 8, the health ministry's latest statistics indicate 8,873 cases of common diarrhea and six fatalities. Of these reported cases, 3,863, or approximately 44%, occurred in children under 5 years old.

Mashonaland East Province reported the highest number of cases, with 1,632, followed by Manicaland Province, with 1,386 cases.

The ministry disclosed that there have been a cumulative 275,385 cases of common diarrhea and 208 deaths.

Source - news24