City of Harare slammed for ignoring early typhoid warnings

The City of Harare is being harshly criticised for allegedly ignoring warnings from residents that typhoid symptoms were being seen, at least a week before the City moved to intervene. But even that intervention has only been in one suburb.

The City has said that it will sink new boreholes in the high-density suburb of Dzivarasekwa, where two confirmed cases of typhoid are said to have originated from. A City spokesperson is quoted as saying they are “on top” on the situation, despite more than 80 people now being under observation at the Beatrice Infectious Diseases Hospital.

The bacterial disease, which spreads most easily through dirty water, causes vomiting, fever and diarrhoea and the public have been urged to use good hygiene to prevent the situation from worsening. But according to the Harare Residents Trust, the City has ignored the “early warning signs” reported to them at least a week ago.

The Trust’s Precious Shumba told SW Radio Africa on Tuesday that the group had notified the City some time ago, after an increasing number of city residents were visiting local clinics with typhoid symptoms.

“The City didn’t take heed of our calls, so we then approached a human rights group who said we had to get a written letter from the City Mayor explaining that they needed help. This still has not happened. So basically, this typhoid outbreak has been caused by human negligence,” Shumba said.

The typhoid fears come as residents are already on high alert for a potential return of cholera, which is similar to typhoid in that it is spread most easily through dirty water.

The city and surrounding areas have been struck by severe water shortages, with some areas not being supplied with clean water for many weeks. The shortages have sometimes resulted in residents fighting each other while trying to access water from the limited number of boreholes across the city.

The boreholes were sunk back in 2008 when a devastating outbreak of cholera swept through the city. The worst affected areas were Glen Norah, Budiriro and Glen View, and once again these areas are facing serious water shortages.

“The typhoid outbreak is symptomatic of the failure of the City health department to respond to the tell tale signs, and a failure of the City in not providing clean water,” Shumba said. – SW Radio Africa News

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