Alarm as cholera deaths surge

RISING cholera deaths have triggered alarm bells after the Health and Child Care ministry recorded 108 suspected deaths and 5 030 new cases as of Monday.

According to the ministry’s latest situational report, 41 districts across the country have reported the outbreak with Buhera and Gutu emerging as hotspots.

“Fifty-five new suspected cholera cases, (1) suspected death and (0) laboratory confirmed results were reported today (Monday). The caseswere reported from Gutu (26).Buhera (10), Bikita (7), Chipinge (5), Chiredzi (5) and Mutare (2),” the report read.

“As of 16 October 2023, 97 cases are hospitalised at Bikita CTC (13), Zaka (5), Chiredzi (4), Gutu (19) in Masvingo Province, Buhera (33), Chipinge (17),Mutare Rural (2) in Manicaland Province, BRIDH (2) in Harare Province and Thorngrove (2) in Bulawayo.”

According to the report, Manicaland has the highest confirmed new cases at 616, followed by Matabeleland South with 133 and Harare (125).

Other provinces which recorded the cholera outbreak are Midlands, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland West, Matabeleland North and Mashonaland East.

Government has banned church camp meetings, open markets, communal beer binge gatherings among other interventions to stop the water-borne disease from spreading.

Health experts have called on government to declare the latest cholera outbreak a national disaster.

“The outbreak is now spreading to other provinces and government may consider declaring the cholera outbreak a national disaster so thata wide range of agencies can come in to support the government with health promotion, treating cases and carrying out case tracing and that may result in reducing case fatalities,” Community Working Group on Health executive director Itai Rusike said.

He said Zimbabwe needed long-lasting measures against cholera which include ensuring access to clean and safe drinking water.

Medical and Dental Private Practitioners Association of Zimbabwe president Johannes Marisa echoed the same sentiments saying: “Any efforts as long as they don’t result in improved water sanitation or infrastructure, will play a partial role in the containment of cholera.”

The disease first surfaced in February this year in Chegutu, Mashonaland West province. It has since spread to  Buhera, Chegutu, Chikomba, Chimanimani, Chipinge,Chitungwiza, Chiredzi, Harare, Gokwe North, Marondera, Mazowe, Shamva, Mutare, Murehwa, Mwenezi, Seke and Wedza.

The 2008 to 2009 cholera epidemic was Zimbabwe’s worst after it affected close to 100 000 people and claimed more than 4 000 lives.

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