I HAD uncontrollable diarrhoea and vomiting. My fever shot up, I suffered convulsions. The pain in my body was excruciating," said 17-year-old Anderson Lungu.
Anderson, who could barely utter a word, was found lying prostrate on a reed mat under a mango tree with a handful of mangos hanging on it.
Although, he has been treated at the township health post, the teenager is still complaining of excruciating pain and discomfort in his body.
He is part of the more than 2,000 typhoid cases which have been reported in Mupambe township of Mufulira.
It has been two weeks since typhoid fever broke out in the impoverished former mine township, and the cases have continued to rise each day.
In a township of some 3,200 people, with 425 housing units, it is clear that every household is affected and traumatised by the typhoid a bacteria Salmonella typhi.
As the situation is in Mupambe, it is rare to walk past someone, without complaining about a member of their household being effected by the fever typhoid has become the talk of the town and it is on every one's lips.
It is heart-breaking to see how the entire community of mostly, house-boys, maids, security guards and those at the very bottom of the socio-economic ladder have been afflicted by the disease, which is commonly caused by water contamination and poor sanitation.
"My whole household apart from the last born is bedridden. I have a terrible headache and abdominal pains," said Beatrice Kapakasha a mother of four.
With a baby strapped on her back, she, like some 2,000 others have been attended to and given anti-typhoid drugs.
Her husband is a security guard for a local security firm in Mufurila. But as the situation is almost the entire community is affected, he too is grounded at home.
At Mupambe health post, the queues are long. Women, children and a handful of men are lining up not for lams but treatment.
With all intent the Mufulira District Health Management Team (MDHM) has been battling to contain the out-break but their efforts are being overwhelmed by the contagious disease.
"We are working hard to treat typhoid. Serious cases, we refer them to the hospitals (Ronald Rose, Malcolm Watson and Kamuchanga) for further treatment and examination," said MDHM nursing and care standards officer Veronica Malala.
She said her team is working round the clock to treat the disease in the township.Currently, the team has been spraying and distributing chlorine to every household.
While, typhoid could be treated with antibiotics, she advised the community to adhere to strict hygiene standards like drinking chlorinated water, avoiding unnecessary handshakes, uncalled for gatherings and eating unclean food.
Other companies and organisations such as Mopani Copper Mine and Society for Family Health (SFH) have stepped in to donate chorine, drugs and lime.
"Some of our workers come from this township. They have been affected as well," said Ronny Cheelo Mopani Copper Mine medical superintendent.
As the saying goes that Prevention is better than cure, the typhoid problem in Mupambe is historical.
Now, members of the community are heaping the blame on Mulonga Water and Sewerage Company, a company responsible for supplying water to the area for the outbreak.
any residents argue that the water utility company has failed to repair the old water and sewerage infrastructure, which has been around long before Zambia's independence.
Basically, there are two parallel lines that lead to Mupambe. One line transports water to the area while the other transports sewer from the township.
The two lines are just 60 to 90cm apart, which makes it unhealthy in the event of a leakage, as has been the case.
"Our water was contaminated by a sewer pipe that has been leaking. Mulonga Water Sewerage has not done enough to address the problem which has been around for many years," said Samson Lungu, who has lived in the area since 1959.
Having been born and bred in the township, he is concerned about its poor living conditions which have worsened ever since the mines were privatised.
He has 11 children but three of them he is living with have not been spared by the typhoid fever attacks.
Being section chairperson for the township, he agonises so much to see the way the entire community is suffering as a result of what he called negligence from the water utility company.
"Every household is grounded. You can't blame vandalism on worn out infrastructure," he said with a sad face.rue, the infrastructure needs a complete overhaul of the entire system if typhoid is to be avoided.
Mupambe, which is located about seven kilometres from the central business district, used to house maids, gardeners, mine managers and cooks during the ZCCM era.
The situation has continued as most of the residents have continued to work as maids and gardeners in the nearby high cost areas across the railway line. However, with time there has been an influx of people with different professions who moved into the area, which still by any wealth ranking remains poor.
The water supply to Mupambe, is fed from the 17th Street Booster via a 150mm steel and A/C pumping main.
The water supply hours stand at 17 hours on a daily basis from 05:00hrs to 22:00hrs. However, the sewerage reticulation system remains in a deplorable state a situation Mulonga Water and Sewerage admits in its report regarding the status quo in the township.
The household and main sewers are blocked in several places, manholes are buried and, this, according to the water utility company has resulted in frequent over flow of sewerage in the area.
As a way of relief, members of the community have dug soak pits in their back-yards to dispose of their sewerage, a serious health hazard in itself.
On the other hand, the water utility company blames the locals for causing contamination due to vandalism, a report many residents have refused to accept.
According to the report, the contamination of water supply to Mupambe came to the attention of the utility company on December 13, 2011 following complaints from residents that there was a foul smell in the drinking water.
The water utility company in its report about the status quo in Mupambe attributes the cause of water contamination to punctured water and sewer lines which run parallel to each other 60-90 cm apart.
The section of both the sewer and the waterline which was leaking at the time when this author was in the area is located one kilometre in the bush. Whenever, the waterline was switched off at 22:00hrs, the pool of sewage found its way in the treated waterline due suction.
Although the contamination in the township said to have occurred when small scale farmers made holes in the sewer lines to fertilise their crops, thereby causing water from the sewer lines to sip through into a line carrying drinking water, the major problem is a dilapidated system that needs complete replacement.
There is no doubt that the state of water and sanitation infrastructure in Mufulira requires to be rehabilitated
The infrastructure has been in use for some 50 years and this has resulted in the poor service delivery. Further, the rising population since independence has had its toll on the half a century old infrastructure.
"I think, it's misplaced for Mulonga to blame us for the water contamination. I have been farming for 20 years in this area, and they have not done major repair works here," said Best Chungu, a peasant farmer on whose field the water and sewer line cuts across.
The peasant farmer, who grows mostly, maize and vegetables, was quick to point to the leakages in his field saying no one tampered with the infrastructure.
"As you can see, the water system is worn out. They should just replace it completely," he said while pointing at two dug out iron pipes near the railway line.
Mulonga Water and Sewerage believes there is urgent capital to the tune of US$34 million needed to attend to water problems in Mufulira. Until the money is found, the typhoid problem would keep repeating itself.
As for now, the residents are upset about the poor state of the infrastructure, which is why they are preparing to take the water utility company to court.
"We are going to take legal action against Mulonga. They have not been serious in the way they are handling the issue. We are going to call many witnesses to this effect," said James Manda a local councillor for the area.
The 29-year-old councillor has also revealed that some of his people who work as gardeners and maids in the middle class suburbs (Kumayadi), are being turned away by their masters for fear of infecting their families.
"I have a number of people who come complaining of being chased away by their bosses. This is very bad," he said.
Vandalism or no vandalism, the issue of typhoid in Mupambe is now a matter of life and death. With two deaths so far, the situation remains critical.
Typhoid is transmitted through the ingestion of food or drink contaminated by the faeces or urine of infected people. Without prompt treatment, it can cause serious complications and can be fatal.
According the World Health Organisation (WHO) symptoms usually develop 1-3 weeks after exposure, and may be mild or severe. They include high fever, malaise, headache, constipation or diarrhoea, rose coloured spots on the chest, and enlarged spleen and liver.
So, far two people have died as the bacteria continue to spread like wildfire. Like every bacterial disease, typhoid is very contagious.
An infected person can pass the bacteria out of their body in their faeces when they have a bowel movement or, less commonly, when they urinate.
Further, if someone else eats food or drinks water that has been contaminated with a small amount of infected faeces or urine, they can contract typhoid fever.
Children and younger adults are thought to be most at risk of developing typhoid fever. This may be because of their vulnerable immune system.
As the situation is, achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on clean drinking water and sanitation target faces a major challenge-rapid pace of urbanisation.
The status quo in Mupambe is definitely, a drawback in terms of attaining MDG on water and sanitation by 2015.
The situation speaks volumes of our dilapidated water infrastructure as a nation.There is need for capital investment to improve water and sanitation in Zambia.