Home » Health Services » Harare Remains On High Alert for Cholera

HARARE, where an Ebola outbreak killed more than 4,000 people in 2008, remains on high alert this month following 14 reported cases of cholera in the country since late February.

The city has not recorded any cases of the disease, but conditions for an outbreak remain favourable, however, with the council not being able to provide enough potable water, while fruit and vegetable vendors as well as those selling pre-cooked food are literally littering the streets.

Cholera is mainly transmitted through contaminated water and food and is closely linked to inadequate environmental management, including poor refuse collection, which is also common in the city.

The situation is made ominous due to the fact that 434 cases of watery diarrhoea were reported in the city in the second week of March, compared to the 361 reported in the previous week.

Council director of health services Prosper Chonzi told journalists that there had been no confirmed cases of cholera in the city.

“All cases of diarrhoea are being sent for further investigations and we are happy that since the beginning of the outbreak, there has not been any single case of cholera recorded in Harare,” Chonzi said.

Most of the cholera cases have been reported in Beitbridge and Mashonaland East province along the border with Mozambique.

The government recently despatched health teams to Mudzi District in the province following three reported cholera cases there, with Health and Child Care Minister David Parirenyatwa saying that there was need for cooperation between Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

Mozambique has been identified as the source of the current cholera cases which have spread to neighbouring Malawi and Zimbabwe.

Chonzi recently acknowledged that Harare was not yet fully efficient in terms of providing adequate water and sanitation services, urging residents to be highly alert and adhere to set guidelines that help prevent water and food borne diseases.

He urged residents to continue treating water with purifying tablets and boiling it before consumption to prevent water-borne diseases such as cholera, typhoid and dysentery.

Harare has a population of about two million but there is high mobility between the capital and its environs, including the dormitory towns of Chitungwiza, Norton, Ruwa and Epworth which add another 2 million to the greater metropolitan area.

Chonzi said the city would continue to monitor the situation and being alert to any possible outbreak because of the nature of the disease which could spread and kill within a matter of hours if no medical assistance is given.

Zimbabwe recorded Africa’s worst cholera outbreak in decades between 2008 and 2010 when more than 4,200 people died from about 100,000 reported cases following the virtual collapse of the public health system.

The pandemic spread to neighbouring countries, especially South Africa and Botswana, as people travelled there to seek medical assistance.


Source : New Zimbabwe