Cholera must not be part of our problems

HARARE - Zimbabwe, in particular its metropolis Harare, should not be struggling with diseases of the mould of cholera and typhoid if communities start doing the right thing.

Of course, in the urban setup, infrastructural issues that have to be addressed by local authorities play a pivotal role in the containment of the deadly water-borne diseases.

Already, the death toll from the current cholera outbreak has risen to 10 while over 423 suspected cases had been reported as of Friday.

For new Health and Child Care supremo Obadiah Moyo — who had a splendid spell transforming one of the country’s national referral centres, Chitungwiza Central Hospital into the institution it is today — this will surely come as a baptism of fire as he has to deal with a monumental problem as he gets into office.

The capital city has been devastated by a breakdown in water and sanitation infrastructure, making it a breeding ground for the bacteria which causes cholera.

For instance, a burst sewer at Joina City in the central business district (CBD) has raised fears of a spread of the disease into the city centre.

To make the management of the current outbreak even more problematic, residents in affected cholera zones are defying directives to stay at their homes and bury locally, with officials fearing the disease could easily spread to other parts of the city and country.

While others took their deceased relatives’ bodies to the rural areas for burial, others conducted funerals at different addresses, posing a risk to those communities which are not the primary source of the disease.

However, to expect communities to play their part in eradicating cholera and typhoid, there are minimum conditions central government and local authorities must be providing, particularly to poor communities.

Once communities have uninterrupted access to clean and safe drinking water, these medieval water-borne bacterial infections can be struck off our problems list.

While the efficacy of available therapeutic interventions cannot be disputed if patients present themselves early for treatment, the costs can be avoided once we right certain wrongs within our systems.

Access to safe water is guaranteed in the Constitution and must be central when the State draws up its spending priorities.

Investment in supply water projects is mandatory yet successive parliaments conveniently ignore this, instead focusing on benefits they draw from their election into the august House.

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