Zimbabwe

Suspected diarrhoea outbreak in Kuwadzana

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The Harare Residents’ Trust (HRT) is alarmed at the rate of suspected cholera outbreaks in residential areas, with the latest reports indicating that there is an outbreak in Kuwadzana and surrounding areas.

Residents in the area are reported to have been drinking water from the borehole at their local clinic. Suspicions are that the borehole water may be contaminated, something the HRT has not yet verified with authorities. But residents have stopped drinking water from that borehole.

This morning, Thursday 19 January 2012, almost 40 residents experienced severe stomach aches which forced them to visit Kuwadzana Clinic which is the only clinic servicing Kuwadzana, Crowborough, Kuwadzana Extension, Whitecliff and surrounding areas.

A few nurses were available and the accounts clerk was reported to have gone away for tea for almost two hours. The immediate assumption was that the staff at the clinic was on strike.

A Medicins Sans Frontier vehicle was transporting residents to Beatrice Diseases Infectious Hospital, near Mbare where they were being treated. Medicins Sans Frontiers driver with whom the HRT Community Coordinator, Mrs. Regina Bakuri spoke to reported that the outbreak started yesterday (Wednesday 18 January 2012) and he had transported 40 residents to Beatrice Hospital where they were attended to and today he had gone with another 35 plus people. The Health officials at the clinic were not responsive to the issue at hand and continued with their strike while jeopardising the lives of over one hundred Kuwadzana residents.

The HRT noted that the most affected were children under the age of six and yet the nurses were not moved by that. Those who were taken to Beatrice Hospital were able to receive free medical attention and many have been admitted. The City Health Department needs to urgently look into the situation in Kuwadzana in order for people to receive treatment at the local clinic. The clinic in Kuwadzana Extension remains closed even after construction was completed.

The City Health department may consider immediate use of that facility to ease pressure on the mobile clinic. Community health workers were seen distributing water purification tablets towards the end of the day and one can only wonder if such tablets are readily available. Why are they only being distributed when people are already affected instead of taking preventative measures? City health department head Dr. Stanley Mungofa needs to seriously intervene before lives are lost.

The city must guarantee adequate clean water supplies to avoid the 2008 cholera outbreak that left nearly 4 000 people dead and thousands others sick. There are rising fears that this could be the beginning of another outbreak and residents have no alternative source of clean water.