GOVERNMENT has declared the current cholera outbreak in Harare a State of Emergency, paving way for a full blown and concerted effort to battle the scourge that has claimed 20 lives and also affected 2000.
This was announced Tuesday by Health and Child Care Minister Obadiah Moyo during a visit to Beatrice Infectious Diseases Hospital, where dozens are being treated.
"We are declaring a state of emergency for Harare and not for the whole country but for Harare, this will then enable us to contain cholera and typhoid and whatever else is going on," Moyo told journalists during the visit.
He added, "We need to have that opportunity in order to be able to get rid of the problem as quickly as possible.
"And like I said, we do not want any further death. So, if we don't declare this disaster emergency, the situation will carry on having so many cases.
"So this is done in order to try and control the disease within the confined areas of the greater Harare in Glen View and Budiriro (residential areas) in particular."
The cholera epidemic hit Harare past few days with Budiriro and Glen View emerging again as the epicentre of the disaster.
Glen View high density suburb has 1461 cases reported, Budiriro 534 with Beatrice Infectious Diseases Hospital now having handled a total of 436 cases.
A polyclinic has been set up at Glen View to handle emerging cases with staff at the place telling the media this past week they were overwhelmed by the amount of human traffic needing medical attention.
Apart from the 20 reported deaths, there are fears the disaster may have claimed more as some people would decide to bury their relatives quietly.
A school, Glen View 5 primary has suspended schooling after two pupils from the institution have died of the disease with more than 20 cases having also been reported.
Minister Moyo said by declaring this cholera outbreak a state of emergency, this will enable local and humanitarian organisations to come in and assist in the affected areas with short to medium term solutions.
"We have had one major problem at the school (Glen View 5 Primary). We have lost two school children and they are about 20 kids who are also sick.
"We have decided that we will suspend the classes while we bring in the fresh water.
"You know we can't close permanently because they will be having their examinations. So, we will suspend the classes while we bring fresh water and they will resume while fresh water has been made available," he said.
The newly appointed health chief said he has also met Harare City Council authorities to understand the source of the outbreak.
"We realised that someone was sitting on the job and not doing their work properly and this is one of the issues we want to address in Zimbabwe as the Ministry of Health," Moyo said.
"We want to make sure that people work and not sit on their laurels.
"In this particular case, this whole problem has arisen as a result of blocked sewers and these were reported and never repaired for at least two months.
"Now we have ended up with the whole Glen View and Budiriro area being affected."
Other problems noted by the new Health Minister are that garbage has not been collected for many days with no running water for residents.
"The other issue is that of vending of meat in the area and we have agreed with the mayor that we are going to be policing area very strictly," he said.
"And I understand that they have started vending their meat and fish at night. We are going to be requesting for assistance from ZRP to ensure that we stop the meat vending in the area."