HARARE, January 23 ‑ Zimbabwe has put all its provinces on high alert after as many as 32 cases of suspected cholera were reported.
Health minister David Parirenyatwa said: “All the [county’s] provinces have been put on high alert for cholera. The district civil protection committee has been activated and meetings are being held twice daily and are chaired by the district administrator to tackle the cholera issue”.
“The national rapid response team, which has been conducting a cholera assessment in the [Mashonaland West] province together with Unicef and WHO is on the ground to support the district and province to deal with cholera.”
He said most cases in Chegutu were linked to the case which resulted in a death on 8 January.
“Subsequently, people who attended this funeral and other subsequent funerals linked to the initial case fell ill and started presenting for treatment at the hospital,” explained the health minister.
The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) urged the government to institute far-reaching reforms to the social service delivery sector in Zimbabwe.
ZADHR executive director Calvin Fambirai said if the government paid attention to financing to water, sanitation and hygiene, it would go a long way in bringing recurrence of these water-borne diseases to an end.
“As it stands, the current outbreaks are a testament to exposure of communities to unsafe and unclean water and environment, which, in themselves, threaten the viability of the healthcare system,” he said.
“Also, the outbreaks are a call to the government, particularly in its infancy, to build a legacy of commitment to ending the continued outbreaks of these archaic diseases.
“In so doing, the central government should compel local authorities to prioritise access to clean, safe and potable water for residents through increasing spending towards capital investments as opposed to the current allocation of 90% of municipality budgets to recurrent expenditure.”
On the other hand, the opposition Tendai Biti-led People’s Democratic Party (PDP) described the cholera outbreak as “ancient Stone Age diseases” that are resulting from poor service delivery.
“To make matters worse, the rise in number of cases of cholera exposes the rhetoric around the populist high heels marathon around hospitals with no effort to improve the public health system. The failure to respond is now visible,” PDP spokesperson Jacob Mafume said.
– African News Agency (ANA)