Govt sets up cholera camp at Chirundu
Paidamoyo Chipunza and Sibongile Maruta
GOVERNMENT has set up a cholera camp at Chirundu Border Post after the epidemic ravaged neighbouring Zambia, where 3 000 people have been treated so far.
There were concerns from some quarters that Government was not being proactive in preventing the likely spread of cholera from the neighbouring country. Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa told The Herald that Government was on high alert and had since reactivated its emergency response teams to deal with any case that might arise. He said Government had also stepped up awareness campaigns particularly on buses leaving Harare for Zambia and Malawi. Malawi recorded cases of cholera in Lilongwe.
“As part of preparedness strategy we have set up a temporary camp at Chirundu border post in case of emergency. Buses leaving Zimbabwe have stickers with information on preventing cholera,” said Dr Parirenyatwa.
Dr Parirenyatwa said Government had mobilised resources in case of a cholera outbreak. This comes in the wake of criticism by stakeholders in the health sector that Government appeared laid back and not taking action to prevent the potential spread of cholera from the country’s neighbours.
Zimbabwe Medical Association (ZiMA) secretary general Dr Shingi Bopoto said considering the high volume of traffic between Zimbabwe, Zambia and also Malawi, it was important for Government to take a leading role in educating Zimbabweans on safer hygiene practices to avoid the diarrhoeal disease from spilling and spreading into the country.
“The outbreaks in Zambia and Malawi should be a call to action for our Government as these are no joke, but serious diseases that have massive potential of spilling and spreading into the country,” he said. “People need to be educated and reminded of those hygiene practices, especially now that we are in the rainy season, which makes spreading of these diarrhoeal diseases even faster combined with the recent admission by Harare City that it is indeed giving residents untreated water.”
Dr Bopoto said Harare, which is normally the transit point for most travellers from Zambia and Malawi, has the conducive environment for the outbreak of cholera.
“Uncollected garbage and blocked sewer pipes are a recipe for cholera outbreak,” he said. “We know that the rainy season increases spread of bacteria that causes these diseases and just recently Mbare has been going through a typhoid outbreak.
“We then get worried as practitioners when we see our Government seeming to be relaxed when we are having outbreaks just next door.” Harare Residents Trust director Mr Precious Shumba urged the Harare City Council to fully equip its reaction centres like Wilkins and Beatrice Infectious Disease Hospitals in preparation for a worst case scenario. He challenged the municipality to make its state of preparedness known to the public.
Zambia has been battling a cholera outbreak believed to have started in October last year, in Lusaka and has since spread to other districts of the country. Suspected cases of cholera in Zambia have now reached 3 200, with about 3 000 in Lusaka.