9 January 2019

Zimbabwe: U.S.$240 000 Boost for Cholera

Photo: New Zimbabwe
Cholera treatment in Zimbabwe.

Government has disbursed about $240 000 to the Midlands Civil Protection Unit to combat cholera in Mberengwa following the outbreak of the water-borne disease in Chomubobo resettlement areas. The disease has since claimed two lives from the 26 cases reported since its outbreak on December 18 last year.

Midlands Provincial Civil Protection Unit (MPCPU) chairperson Mr Thompson Siziba said Government had disbursed $239 050 for the Mberengwa cholera outbreak.

Mr Siziba said the money was used for the setting up of cholera treatment camps and other non-food items procured to assist in fighting the disease.

"As a province we received $239 050 from Government under the cholera response fund that was established at national level to assist in case of cholera outbreaks," he said. "This money was used in the setting up of cholera, logistics and procurement of other non-food items. As of January 4, we had utilised $82 264."

Midlands provincial medical director Dr Simon Nyadundu said at least 26 cases of cholera have been recorded since its outbreak last month.

Dr Nyadundu said majority of the affected patients were treated and discharged.

"We only had two deaths contrary to earlier reports that three people had died," he said. "We have a total of 26 cases that we have recorded since the time of the outbreak to today.

"Most of the patients have been treated and discharged. However, we received eight more suspected cases of cholera and these are the only ones that we are attending to now."

Dr Nyadundu said the Ministry of Health and Child Care was relocating the treatment camp from Chomubobo area to pave way for schools opening.

"We had camped in Chomubobo, but now that the schools are opening we are now relocating the camp," he said. "We are in the process of identifying a new site.

"Another challenge that we have in the area is that there is poor sanitation. There are no safe water sources and most toilets were swept away when Cyclone Dineo induced floods affected the area a few years back."

Dr Nyadundu said Mberengwa did not have health personnel with skills on how to deal with cholera.

"Chomubobo area has only one village health worker," he said. "We are training other volunteers to become village health workers. Mberengwa had never experienced a cholera outbreak; as a result, the nurses in the area have no experience on how to deal with the disease. They are not fully equipped."

Midlands provincial administrator Mr Abion Maronge said the CPU had since dispatched a team led by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) to inspect the sewage disposal systems at Mnene Mission, amid indications that the Lutheran-run institution could be the source of the cholera outbreak.

Mnene Mission had earlier been singled out as the possible source of a cholera outbreak after samples taken from the river which is the main water source for people in the area were discovered to be contaminated.

It is suspected that raw sewage from Mnene Mission might have been accidentally discharged into Mnene River and contaminated water and affected its downstream.

Mr Maronge said the province had set up a taskforce led by EMA and would investigate Mnene Mission over the allegations as it moves to establish the source of the waterborne disease.

"There has been a debate on whether Mnene Mission was the source of the cholera outbreak or not," he said. "I understand this is the first time that Mberengwa has had a cholera outbreak.

"People have just been speculating but we want to know the source of cholera. There were reports that Mnene Mission could be the source because it was said that their sewage disposal systems were not fully functional. However, we cannot conclude if we do not investigate the matter.

"So a team led by EMA will lead the investigations so that we see if Mnene Mission is actually the source."

Mr Maronge said samples taken from the river which flows from Mnene showed that the water was contaminated and was the source of cholera.

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