21 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Harare Residents Appeal for Urgent Solution to Typhoid Crisis

Residents in Harare have appealed for an urgent solution to end the typhoid crisis in the city, where the disease continues to spread.

At least 800 cases have been reported in the capital alone since October, with at least five deaths recorded as a result of the disease. These deaths have been recorded mainly in the Glenview suburb where a fresh outbreak was reported in October, a year since the first outbreak in Harare in 2011.

Residents in Dzivarasekwa have also been warned about an outbreak of the disease there, where the local clinic has been transferring about 15-16 people to Beatrice Infectious Diseases Hospital every day.

Harare City Health Deputy Director Dr Prosper Chonzi said earlier this month that other new cases have also been reported in Mabvuku, Tafara and other suburbs that have no access to clean water.

Speaking during a council meeting this week, Town Clerk Dr Tendai Mahachi reportedly said the new cases in and around the capital were as a result of contaminated boreholes. Mahachi said that of the 235 boreholes sunk in the city since 2008, 19 were 'polluted' and three were confirmed as contaminated with the typhoid virus.

Precious Shumba from the Harare Residents' Trust told SW Radio Africa on Friday that until key stakeholders from the city council, the national water authority and government come together and find a solution, "there will be no end to the crisis."

"Most people in Harare are now exposed to contaminated, dirty water. But there is no combined effort at all levels to prioritise water and sewage issues. We are really disturbed by the attitude of the authorities," Shumba said.

He added that too much money being paid by residents towards their local bills is being diverted for council wages.

"We need the council to prioritise the water issue. Otherwise there will be no end to this," Shumba said.

Typhoid cases have been reported in different parts of Zimbabwe since last year, with the worst affected areas being the densely populated suburbs around Harare's centre, including Kuwadzana and Mufakose. More cases have been reported throughout the year in Bindura, Mashonaland Central and Norton and Zvimba in Mashonaland West. Chitungwiza and Kadoma have also reported serious outbreaks with the local authorities being blamed for failing to provide clean water.

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