Zimbabwe cholera death toll rises to 16

Zimbabwe cholera death toll rises to 16
Published: 11 September 2018 (157 Views)
THE death toll from the cholera outbreak in Harare has risen to 16 amid reports that the disease has spread to the Midlands province while about 13 people have died due to typhoid which was reported in Gweru about a month ago.

Director of Epidemiology and Disease Control in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Portia Manangazira, confirmed the figures yesterday and called on mothers to wash hands before and after breastfeeding or changing nappies.

"As of 9 September, 136 new cholera cases have been reported bringing to a total 1 007 suspected cases, 39 confirmed and 16 deaths. "We encourage authorities to ensure water availability and water safety, and the public to use the water prudently; thus treat it at point of use, especially drinking water and the water which they use to wash fruit and all food eaten raw," she said.

Dr Manangazira said the outbreak of water- borne diseases was attributed to critical water shortages due to low dam levels as the nation awaits the rainy season.

"We further alert the public of the cholera outbreak in Harare and its spread to other provinces, Midlands, Mashonaland Central, Masvingo and Manicaland. So they must really firm up on ensuring all drinking water has been rendered safe by either boiling or chlorination with either water guard, Aquatabs or household Jik."

She advised against eating cooked food from unlicensed premises as it increases the risk of contracting both cholera and typhoid.

"They must also avoid open urination and defecation, and use toilets for both urine and stools to curb spread of both typhoid and cholera. Hand washing remains very important especially following toilet use, before handling food, and for breastfeeding mothers before breastfeeding and after changing babies' nappies," Dr Manangazira said.

The national taskforce, she said, has already met with inter-agency coordinating committees including the uniformed forces to ensure surveillance, case management and mitigation among other response measures, are well executed.

"We note the number of deaths at 16 since declaration of this outbreak as being very high, especially for urban environments. We regret this loss of life, and urge all people who are feeling unwell with suspected cholera to present early to their nearest clinic or treatment centre."

The typhoid outbreak is suspected to have resulted from a water outage which occurred in most parts of Gweru due to major water pipe bursts from the Gwenhoro water treatment plant around mid-June his year. By September 7, the Ministry had recorded a cumulative total of 1 943 cases, with 16 confirmed and the majority of cases coming from Mkoba 13 to 20.

"As response efforts continue, there is a need to strengthen laboratory capacity to test more samples for confirmation and water quality monitoring. Health promotion should continue. All thematic committees should continue focusing on their areas of specialty," said Dr Manangazira.

She said major challenges include limited water and laboratory sampling due to lack of consumables.


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