Walter Nyamukondiwa: Chinhoyi Bureau
At least 22 new diarrhoeal cases have been detected in Chidamoyo, Hurungwe, with three confirmed typhoid cases so far as Government and its partners move in to setup a treatment camp.This brings the total number of detected cases in the Bhashungwe area to 122 from the initial 100 cases recorded last week as water and sanitation challenges continue to hamper its containment.
Villagers from Manyembere and Manhuwa continue to fetch drinking water from nearby rivers while open defecation is the order of the day as latrine distribution is sparse.
This puts them at risk of contracting and spreading the disease to adjacent villages. The treatment camp will come as a relief to villagers who have to walk an average of 10km to nearby Chidamoyo Christian Hospital.
The rains have dealt villagers a blow as they have to devise means of crossing the flood-prone Badze low-level river bridge which is submerged.
Mashonaland West provincial medical director Dr Wenseslas Nyamayaro said a provincial team that went to assess the situation recommended setting up a treatment camp.
“There is no nearby clinic hence the need for a temporary treatment camp so that people get health services closer to their homes,” said Dr Nyamayaro.
“The move is temporary because in the absence of interventions that address the root cause, which is lack of clean drinking water and toilets, the situation will remain precarious.”
He said with assistance from partners such as Unicef, who have committed to sinking at least a borehole in the area, the spread of typhoid can be controlled.
Other partners have chipped in with provision of basic hygiene items such as water buckets, germicides and offering training and awareness programmes to villagers.
The villages have seen a disproportionate increase in people to the available basic sanitation and water supplies over the years as former farm workers in adjacent farms moved in after the Land Reform programme.
At least 400 families share two boreholes, which have, however, broken down, leaving villagers to fetch water from nearby Dororowe River and riverbeds of other smaller ones.
For others, however, the two boreholes have never been an option as they are far from where they stay, resulting in them perennially getting water from unprotected sources.
There are only 20 pit latrines servicing about 2 000 people, thereby increasing chances of contracting water-borne diseases such as typhoid and cholera due open defecation.
The area has not been covered by Government’s Water, Sanitation and Hygience programme, which operated in at least eight of the 18 wards in Hurungwe District.
About 500 schoolchildren and their teachers in the area also fetch water from the nearby river. The outbreak has resulted in 11 pupils from both Bhashungwe Primary and Secondary schools being hospitalised.
Some of them are yet to report for the first term. Government has mobilised more drugs for the area where staff from Chidamoyo Hospital would periodically attend to patients.