Government criticised as doctors report 800 typhoid cases

The coalition government has been criticised for lacking urgency in dealing with the country’s health problems, following an increase in the number of reported cases of the typhoid disease.

Although no deaths were reported this month, the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) on Sunday said the number of reported typhoid cases had reached 800, mostly in the Kuwadzana high density area.

In a statement released this week, the doctors criticised the coalition government for failing to provide clean water and to deal with burst sewers and a neglected infrastructure. The group said heavy rains had not improved the quality of water in most townships.

Mfundo Mlilo of the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) said the city of Harare was also to blame, as they were cutting off water supplies for families that fail to pay their bills, at a crucial time when disease is looming.

“To cut off water at a time like this when typhoid threatens is a problem. We expect them to provide water services until the problem is resolved. They can wait,” Mlilo explained. He added that the situation “could run out of control” if not properly managed.

CHRA agreed with Doctors for Human Rights that most cases were in Kuwadzana, but Mlilo said some very isolated cases had been reported in Warren Park and Budiriro.

The residents’ group also took samples of water from Kuwadzana last week that are still being analysed. Mlilo said a survey by CHRA, conducted last Wednesday and Thursday in Kuwadzana, showed that one in four households had been treated for typhoid, or showed signs of dysentery.

As fears of a cholera outbreak intensified, the state run media on Saturday warned hotels, restaurants and outdoor food vendors to maintain standard health and hygiene practices or risk closure. An estimated 4000 people died during the last outbreak of cholera in 2009.

The Health Services director Dr. Prosper Chonzi is quoted as saying: “We can have cholera anytime. The environment is conducive for the outbreak. We need to be proactive and play our part.”

Dr. Chonzi warned that no-one was safe from typhoid as the disease could be spread by people moving from area to another. He added that the bacteria could already have spread to areas outside Harare, including Chitungwiza and Epworth.

“Food businesses and those that handle raw foodstuffs like fruits, unprocessed foods and butcheries face closure. We will have to certify food handlers. They should be screened for TB and general cleanliness,” Dr Chonzi said. – SW Radio Africa

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