BULAWAYO has recorded an increase in diarrhoea cases, which have claimed 13 lives, and remains on high alert for a typhoid outbreak as the city continues to face
The water problems in Bulawayo worsened following the decommissioning of three supply dams due to low levels early this year.
This has resulted in people resorting to unsafe water sources and thousands of residents are now reportedly suffering from waterborne diseases.
Ageing water and sewage reticulation infrastructure coupled with the problem of incessant sewer bursts, has resulted in contamination of potable water.
The latest council report of the health, housing and education committee shows that the city fathers are concerned over the failure to tame diarrhoea while expressing fear of a typhoid outbreak.
The minutes also revealed that there is an increase in cases of people being bitten by dogs in the city, exposing residents to rabies.
“Diarrhoea cases (473) were on the increase in the month of September 2020, exceeding the action threshold for some clinics in Emakhandeni district. This is a major public health concern,” the council report read in part.
“The rise in diarrhoea and dog bite cases has created the urgent need for health promotion messages to emphasise improved WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) activities, contact tracing, active case finding as well as health education, intensified shop inspections and dog patrol activities.
“The city ensured that it was effective, relevant, tailor made. Context specific epidemic response mechanisms (ERMs) had been deployed and promoted timeously. Bulawayo
remained on high alert for typhoid as it was endemic in some neighbouring cities.”
Typhoid, which is caused by a bacteria called salmonella typhi that is spread through contaminated food, water and poor sanitation is also endemic in Harare.
In 2019, Zimbabwe became the first country in Africa to benefit from the World Health Organisation (WHO) funded mass typbar-typhoid conjugate vaccination programme.
WHO recommended that the introduction of the typbar-typhoid conjugate vaccine be prioritised in countries with the highest burden of the typhoid disease or a high burden of antimicrobial-resistant strain.
Zimbabwe meets the two criteria. In addition to the seasonal outbreak, the country has been experiencing a high level of resistance to the standard first line antibiotic treatment.