A Health Ministry official has blamed water shortages and sewerage problems in Chitungwiza for an outbreak of typhoid, which the Ministry has been trying to stop from becoming a nationwide crisis.
The Ministry this week confirmed reports of fresh cases of the water-borne bacterial disease in the high-density suburb outside Harare. According to a report in the Daily News newspaper the director for disease control in the Ministry, Portia Manangazira, said several people have been affected but no specific numbers were given.
Manangazira blamed the outbreak on a combination of water shortages and sewerage problems in the area, with residents forced to drink unsafe water. Health Minister Henry Madzorera elaborated saying: “People are eating their own waste.”
A number of fresh cases of typhoid have been reported in Zimbabwe since last year and the worst affected have been the densely populated areas around Harare’s centre, including Kuwadzana and Mufakose. That outbreak threatened to spread across the country, after cases were confirmed in Bindura, Mashonaland Central and Norton and Zvimba in Mashonaland West.
In February the Health Ministry admitted it was not on top of the situation, with a critical lack of medicine and clean water hampering treatment and prevention efforts. For areas like Chitungwiza, where sewerage problems and a lack of clean water have been major problems for years, the threat of an outbreak seemed imminent.
Simbarashe Moyo, the Chairman of the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA), told SW Radio Africa on Thursday that it is “not surprising at all” that cases of the disease are cropping up in Chitungwiza.
“We know the City health authorities have tried to contain the disease and a lot has been done to stop the spread. But in Chitungwiza there are burst sewers everywhere, there is sewage on the streets. And there is not a lot of clean water. So we’re not surprised,” Moyo said.
He explained how Chitungwiza is almost entirely dependent on clean water reserves from the City of Harare, but millions of dollars in unpaid water bills has seen City officials cut off water supplies.
“So there are a combination of factors that have led to this. But right now, the authorities should do something to stop this from getting worse,” Moyo said.
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Zimbabwe: Water Shortages Blamed for Typhoid Outbreak in Chitungwiza
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