Govt fears typhoid upsurge

HARARE - Government ministers voiced concern yesterday at the worsening filth in Mbare, warning the typhoid outbreak could worsen as City of Harare struggles to ramp up garbage collection in the high density suburb.

So far, 158 typhoid cases and two deaths have been recorded in the area, with authorities opening a 24-hour typhoid response centre at Mbare Polyclinic.

Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere and Health minister David Parirenyatwa — who toured Mbare and Chitungwiza town yesterday — said there was need for a robust response to the situation before it gets out of hand.

This comes as government has approved a $30 million request to respond to the service delivery crisis.

“The situation is deplorable.  We have to do something about it,” Kasukuwere said in a brief to the press after the tour.

“We should also bear in mind the populations have increased in the urban centres putting pressure on existing infrastructure.  We need to engage with the local authority now and have a robust response to a plethora of the problems that they are facing, on the environment side for the rehabilitation of our infrastructure.”

Parirenyatwa said the typhoid or cholera crises will not be solved as long as the filth exists.

“The solution is making sure that we have hygienic conditions in this country, particularly here in Harare. Look at the filth that is there, the worms that are breeding, and the sewage that is flowing.

“It’s just flowing and deplorable, that is a breeding ground, proper breeding ground for diseases... as long as you don’t clean this, you will not get rid of typhoid,” Parirenyatwa said.

Meanwhile, civil society groups yesterday called for the set up of a commission of inquiry to look into curbing preventable diseases.

The call was made by the Civil Society Health Emergency Response Coordinating Committee (CSHERCC) which comprises Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association, Community Working Group on Health, Combined Harare Residents Association, Citizens Health Watch, Chitungwiza Residents Trust and the Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation.

“The State must set up a commission of inquiry that looks into the recurrence of a preventable disease and come up with recommendations for non-recurrence in the future,” the groups said at a news conference in Harare yesterday.

The rights groups said the reported two deaths and over 158 typhoid cases represent a clear failure on the part of government to uphold its constitutional obligations.

The Constitution places an obligation on the State to guarantee rights of persons to safe, clean and potable water under section 77, the right to a clean environment, under Section 73 and the right to health care under Section 76.

Zimbabwe has also voluntarily ratified the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the United Nations International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights.

“It is therefore imperative that the government takes these rights seriously and uphold the fundamental obligations contained in the supreme law of the land,” the civil society groups said.

“The State must implement urgent and effective measures for the provision of safe, clean, potable water as a direct measure to combat the spread of typhoid.”

The groups also called on the State to increase funding allocation on water, sanitation and hygiene and strive to achieve 15 percent allocation to health as stipulated in the Abuja Declaration in order to enhance the quality of life of citizens.

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