By Joyce Mukucha and Patricia Mashiri
The Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr David Parirenyatwa has urged the public to practice good hygiene following cholera related deaths reported in Chegutu Municipality in Mashonaland West Province on the 18th of January 2018.
Parirenyatwa said there were 32 cases (30 suspected and 2 confirmed) and Four (4) deaths reported. In all 19 males and 15 females have been affected. All these suspected cases are all linked to funerals that occurred in the locality.
“We think the index case was an 80 year old female who succumbed to the disease at home on the 8th January 2017. Subsequently people who attended this funeral other subsequent funerals linked the initial case fell sick and started presenting for treatment at the hospital. A cholera test was done on 19th of January 2018 on one of the deceased confirmed cholera.
“Two other samples tested positive for cholera and were confirmed at NRML and Chegutu District Hospital where the cases are being seen reported 1 cases on the 12th of January, 3 cases on the 13th, 5 cases on 15th, and 3 on the 16th. There were 4 cases that came on the 17th, 1 case on the 18th and four (4) on the 19th. On Saturday the 20th we had a surge of cases following a burial where the hospital reported a total 11 cases and the last 2 days only 2 cases were seen per day,” he said.
He said Chegutu Municipality has a critical shortage of water due to aging water reticulation infrastructure like most towns in Zimbabwe and this need to be addressed.
“There is rampant vending in undesignated places, including selling of meat and fruits in pavements. People buy and eat all these on the streets in unhygienic condition putting themselves at risk of cholera and diarrhoeal diseases, ”Parirenyatwa said.
As a way of fighting against cholera outbreaks, Dr Parirenyatwa encouraged people to drink only safe water which should have been boiled or treated with treatment chemicals and desist from holding big meetings during outbreaks such as these ones.
“Let’s not shake hands as these gatherings or funerals, avoid eating foods cooked or prepared in unhygienic conditions. We encourage people to practice good hygiene practices, wash hands before eating food, after visiting the toilet and after changing nappies,” he said.
Dr Parirenyatwa also said he had visited the area to get first had information on the 19th after the 1st report was given and again on the 20th, have had meetings with the DMO and his Team, visited the patients admitted in the treatment ward, and the locality where the cases are emanating.
All the provinces, he said, have been put on high alert for cholera, the District Civil Protection Committee has been activated and meetings are being held twice daily and chaired by DA to challenge cholera problem.
Health education campaigns through IEC distribution and door to door visits are being done as well as SMs messages on mobile phones, supervised burials being done and prohibition of consumption of food at the funeral gatherings and shacking of hands.
“The National Rapid Response Team which has been conducting a cholera assessment in the province together with UNICEF and WHO is on the ground to support the District and Province to deal with cholera and control of food vending in undesignated areas is being enforced including inspection of premises,” said Parirenyatwa.
In response to the outbreak of cholera in the area, a treatment camp closer to where the patients are coming from has been set up at Chinengundu Clinic and active surveillance including contact tracing of persons who attended the funerals of the cholera deaths are being followed up in Harare and other areas.