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140 boreholes for cholera hotspots

by Staff reporter
22 Jan 2024 at 04:49hrs | Views
GOVERNMENT has drilled 77 boreholes in cholera hotspots across the country out of a target of more than 140 as it steps up efforts to fight the deadly water-borne disease through increased access to clean water.

The country is battling a cholera outbreak that has so far claimed 71 lives while more than 300 others are suspected to have succumbed to the disease since its outbreak last year.

The disease is also wreaking havoc in several countries across the region.

As of January 17, Zimbabwe had reported 18 865 suspected cholera cases, 2 223 confirmed cases and 12 137 recoveries.

The country has swiftly activated its rapid response systems in a bid to save lives and will this week take delivery of a consignment of close to one million cholera vaccines ahead of the commencement of a nationwide vaccination campaign set to kick-off next month.

Working closely with development partners, the Government, through the Ministry of Health and Child Care has secured about 2,2 million doses of the oral cholera vaccine (OCV) from the International Coordinating Group (ICG), which will be delivered in batches. The ministry has also moved in to monitor funerals and other public gathering, which are regarded as cholera superspreaders and has since instructed members of the public to report all community recorded deaths related to diarrhoeal causes for quick action.

In addition to fast-track borehole drilling, the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) has also been mandated to strengthen the water quality assurance tests as part of the waterborne disease containment measures in both rural and urban areas.

Zinwa corporate communications and marketing manager, Mrs Marjorie Munyonga, said the agency has ramped up measures to ensure that all members of the public have access to clean water.

"Zinwa has drilled 77 boreholes across the country to help improve the water and sanitation situation of communities as part of measures to fight cholera," she said.

Mrs Munyonga said boreholes are being drilled at institutions such as clinics, hospitals, schools and villages in cholera hotspots such as Harare, Glendale and Mapanza in Chiredzi.

She said the boreholes are being equipped with solar systems and bush pumps.

The exercise is complementing the Presidential Borehole Drilling Scheme that commenced in 2021 and is meant to improve ommunities' access to clean water and is targeting 35 000 boreholes across the country.

Communities in Binga, Matebeleland North and Mangwe in Matebeleland South, are among those that have already benefitted from the programme.

Concerning the cholera mitigation interventions, Mrs Munyonga said 38 boreholes have been drilled in Harare, 33 in Manicaland, three in Mashonaland West and two in Masvingo province with more expected in other parts of the country.

"Drilling of more boreholes is in progress across the country with at least 140 boreholes having already been surveyed and ready for drilling as at January 17, 2024. The authority has also put in place a raft of measures and strategies to help prevent the outbreak and spread of cholera in the areas that it provides potable water," she said.

Mrs Munyonga also said Zinwa has stocked water treatment chemicals for small towns, growth points and rural service centres that it provides water in order to ensure there are no disruptions to water supplies.

Access to clean water is key to fighting cholera hence Zinwa says it wants to ensure there are no disruptions  to water supplies.

"All water supply stations are adequately stocked with at least three months' supply of water treatment chemicals," said Mrs Munyonga.

The authority has also strengthened its water quality assurance function, ensuring that all treated water is subjected to frequent and rigorous tests at various points of production and distribution while it is also reducing its response time to breakdowns.

"Zinwa is also stockpiling critical plant spares to help reduce stations' downtime."

Mrs Munyonga said Zinwa catchment and service Centre offices are also working closely with key Government agencies in the fight against cholera at provincial and district levels.

Contacted for comment, Bulawayo Health Services Director Dr Edwin Mzingwane said the provision of clean water is key in fighting cholera.

"Harare and Chitungwiza are suffering because of drinking contaminated water. Their situation is different from ours because we have clean water but our challenge is that were are rationing water," said Dr Sibanda.

Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal infection caused by bacteria and occurs when one consumes food and water contaminated with cholera bacteria.

The water-borne disease causes severe dehydration and diarrhoea which could lead to death. The disease affects both children and adults and can kill within hours if untreated.

According to health experts, most people infected with cholera do not develop any symptoms although the bacteria is present in human waste for 1-10 days after infection and is shed back into the environment, potentially infecting other people.

Health experts have urged members of the public to maintain high levels of hygiene as part of measures to fight cholera hence the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has directed school authorities to ensure schools have running water all the time.

Source - The Chronicle