Maputo — About 50 traditional chiefs and other community leaders in Memba district, in the northern Mozambican province of Nampula, say that they have come under attack from people who accuse them of deliberately spreading cholera.
They complained of the threats they face to the provincial governor, Victor Borges, when he launched the National Health Week in the province.
AIM interviewed some of these traditional leaders who said they have been harassed and savagely beaten by individuals who allege that they are responsible for the recent cholera outbreak in Memba.
“We're afraid. We're sleeping in the bush. Some of us have lost our houses and other properly. We're being attacked by those whom we regard as our sons”, they said.
The leaders were able to identify some of the assailants, and lodged a complaint against them at the police post in the Mazua administrative post in Memba.
In response, Borges said the authorities are attentive to this sort of case, and he asked the leaders and their communities to collaborate in denouncing those who spread disinformation about cholera, so that the problem can be eliminated.
The wave of rumours about cholera has caused some panic-stricken people in Memba to leave their homes, which has merely resulted in spreading the disease to other parts of the district.
According to the Nampula provincial chief doctor, Sulaimana Iisidoro, since 14 August 386 cases of cholera have been diagnosed in Memba, and currently 12 patients are hospitalised in the district. No cases of cholera have been diagnosed anywhere else in the province.
Isidora said the health authorities are continuing to wage campaigns in the communities to avoid the spread of the disease. He blamed poor sanitation, lack of hygiene and lack of access to clean drinking water as the real factors behind the cholera outbreak.
Disinformation and conspiracy theories about cholera have been a recurrent phenomenon in northern Mozambique. In previous outbreaks mobs have even smashed up health units, driven by claims that the very people who are trying to halt the disease are spreading it.