Harare Council ‘not in control’ as typhoid continues to spread

The Harare City Council is facing criticism for not doing enough to control the spread of typhoid, which is now being reported elsewhere in the country.

An estimated 200 new cases have been reported in the past week, and according to Health Ministry authorities the disease is spreading nationally. Dr. Portia Manangazira, chief of epidemiology and disease control in the Ministry of Health told a Health Portfolio Committee in parliament on Wednesday that they do not have the capacity to combat a major outbreak, saying the disease is already “raging.”

“If we look at a potential outbreak, we don’t have the medicine to deal with it, for instance in Bindura we ran out of Ciprofloxacilin, a drug of choice,” Dr. Manangazira said.

The doctor also said that at least one person recently contracted the disease at Parirenyatwa Hospital, while scores more are believed to have been infected at Bindura hospital.

“What really got me worried was the water and sanitation situation at Bindura Provincial Hospital,” Dr. Manangazira explained. “They said the hospital has two taps to give the patients and staff running water. So the hospital staff are using the bucket system to collect water for patients as well as to flush toilets.”

Manangazira said areas where typhoid cases have been reported include Harare’s working class suburbs of Kuwadzana, Mufakose and Crowbrough, while more cases were reported from Bindura town in Mashonaland Central province and from Norton and Zvimba in Mashonaland West province.

“The cumulative figures for typhoid are 3 074 suspected cases, 19 confirmed cases and 1 death since October 2011,” she said.

The Harare City Council has for months said it is on top of the situation, even announcing plans to restrict water to ‘wealthy’ areas in order to supply poor areas with clean water.

But Precious Shumba from the Harare Resident’s Trust told SW Radio Africa on Thursday that the council “is not in control.” He said that many areas still don’t have any clean water access, and the supplies they do have access to have often been contaminated by sewerage.

“In Glen Norah there has been a sewerage leak for three weeks and nothing has been done. People there have been visiting clinics almost every day because they are getting sick,” Shumba said.

He also listed the areas affected by typhoid, including Dzivarasekwa, Warren Park, Kuwadzana, Mabvuku and areas in Harare East. He said in general, access to clean water remains limited in many areas.

“The Harare City Council must begin to address sewer bursts and they must urgently respond to the needs to its citizens, especially their access to clean water,” Shumba said. – SW Radio Africa News

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