THE prevailing Cholera epidemic which has claimed 49 lives and infected 9779 others, is probably the worst cholera epidemic the country has ever experienced as it is a confection of Typhoid, Cholera and Salmonella hence making it difficult to cure using available antibiotics, Harare City Health director, Dr Clemence Duri has said.
By Michael Gwarisa
The co-infection nature of the current strain has made it multi drug resistant mainly to the first line of antibiotics and health personnel have since upgraded to the second line of antibiotics called Azithromycin and patients are banking more on Intravenous (IV) fluids.
Briefing government and corporates on the state of the Cholera epidemic, Dr Duri said even though there were battling a rare cholera strain, there has been a reduction in the number of infections per day and deaths have not entered the 2008 frenzy where 4000 lives were lost.
“As far as we are concerned we think that the numbers seem to be going down and here at Beatrice it gives us hope. I need to emphasise that we are dealing with co-infection of Typhoid and Cholera and that is giving us a challenge.
“We are meeting on a regular basis with different thematic groups to try and address the issues. We have got surveillance, Laboratories, Case management, water sanitation and hygiene thematic groups and coordination so people are meeting and even if it means meeting four time a day, let it be,” Dr Duri.
He added that the city council was now focusing on addressing the main drivers of cholera to avoid recurrence of medieval diseases.
“We come at a time when we are trying to battle cholera, as we speak the city is trying to respond to it and we have set up three camps, one at Glenview, one at Budirio and one here at Nazareth which is the main camp. Severe cases are being managed here. From the City’s perspective we are trying to address the issue of the drivers of Cholera.
“Just to mention that Cholera is not a health issue but it is a problem which shows that our infrastructure is run down. So basically the town clerk is ceased with trying repair issues of sewer, so as we speak we are trying to attend to the sewer blockages and blocked sewer in different areas and different partners have come in to assist us. There is also the issue of water supply and we are supplying water in the epicentre.”
Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) deputy minister, Dr John Mangwiro said they will embarking on massive cholera vaccination drive some time next week to protect citizens from infection.
“We have developed a response and this plan details the actiosn and resources required for us to control the ouitbreak. The plan outlines the short-term, medium term and long term strategies for us to combat the current and future outbreaks of cholera.
“We will share the plan with yourselves as well as others who may want to donate towards the cholera fight. One short term apart from the rapid response activities is to vaccinate at risk populations in Glenview, Budiriro, Glen-Norah and Mbare suburbs,” said Dr Mangwiro.
He added that government had received 500 000 doses of cholera vaccine and preparations were now at advanced stage.