Chitungwiza sets up cholera treatment centre Chitungwiza Central Hospital acting chief medical officer Dr Raphael Makota said the hospital was working with Chitungwiza Municipality in the response to the outbreak.

Rumbidzayi Zinyuke-Senior Health Reporter 

While all cholera cases in Chitungwiza have to be referred to the municipal cholera treatment centre, when infected persons approach the hospital they are screened and treatment starts while they await transfer to the municipal centre.

This follows reports that the hospital had been denying patients health care on the basis that the municipality was the one in charge of cholera resulting in the death of a patient at the hospital gate last week. The patient was already dead on arrival at the hospital.

While there are suggestions that the hospital should be using for cholera patients a specialised unit which was upgraded during the Covid-19 pandemic, this had already been reassigned permanently as a much needed maternity unity for the more complicated deliveries.

Chitungwiza Central Hospital acting chief medical officer Dr Raphael Makota said the hospital was working with Chitungwiza Municipality in the response to the outbreak.

“We had a meeting with the municipality on November 2 to discuss the management of cholera cases in Chitungwiza and we agreed to set up a screening tent at Chitungwiza Hospital so that anyone who presents with diarrhoeal illness is treated there whilst waiting to be transferred to the cholera treatment camp which had already been established in St Mary’s.

“We agreed that Chitungwiza Hospital would support the treatment centre with one middle level doctor (a hospital medical officer) and a specialist physician who would be working there. We also had a provision to admit any critically ill patients who could not be treated at the cholera treatment centre because they might need specialised care such as the high dependence unit or Intensive Care Unit, then the doctors could refer them to us,” he said.

Dr Makota said the patient who is said to have died at the hospital gate was a 44-year-old woman who had been admitted to the cholera treatment centre on November 10 and discharged after four days.

He said the patient’s condition had however deteriorated while at home and she was brought to Chitungwiza Hospital on November 15. “Unfortunately, she had already died when she arrived at the hospital. We did not get to offer her any assistance,” he said.

On the use of the isolation ward as a cholera treatment centre, Dr Makota said this was not possible as the unit had been repurposed as a maternity ward in an effort to reduce the high maternal mortality that was being recorded at the hospital.

The isolation ward has 38 beds, an oxygen source for every bed, a section that can be converted to an ICU, dedicated water and electricity supply.

“Our hospital had an unacceptably high maternal mortality rate and one of the reasons was that we had no space to admit the pregnant women where we could monitor them adequately. We realised that we had only admitted three patients between July and September in the unit meaning we were underusing it. We then asked for permission from the Secretary for Health to convert this ward into a maternity ward and this was granted. We also discussed this with the Harare provincial medical director and the acting director health services in Chitungwiza and we all agreed to do that,” he said.

He said all stakeholders had agreed that cholera patients could be treated in the cholera treatment tents where they could get adequate services but pregnant women needed a hospital with all its services hence the decision not to use the specialised unit for cholera cases.

Since the beginning of the current cholera outbreak in February, Chitungwiza has reported 744 suspected cases with 35 of these confirmed as cholera. The town has reported eight confirmed deaths and five suspected deaths to date.

Chitungwiza currently has no patients admitted at the treatment centres.

The lack of clean water and poor sewage management in the town has been cited as the major cause for the cholera outbreak.

Dr Makota said there were long term plans to establish a centre that would cater for all infectious diseases in the town.

“A long term resolution was made that Chitungwiza city should build an infectious diseases hospital just like Nazareth and Wilkins in Harare so that people with infectious diseases can be treated there. They have identified a beerhall that they want to convert for that use,” he said.

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