CYCLONE Idai survivors have contracted parasitic diseases, raising fears of gut and gastrointestinal infections in affected areas.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
This was revealed by Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo on Monday at an International Red Cross Community donation at National Pharmaceutical Company (NatPharm) offices.
“And I have already got some information from the Provincial Medical Director that we are now getting children affected by parasites. So we need medication to cure the children from parasites. Get them out of their body systems,” he said.
The Minister leaded for more donations to deal with water borne diseases that might affect the survivors.
“We also want to say there is a phase following the epidemics of this nature, where we will then require to make sure that we prevent further epidemics. Now we want to prevent the water borne diseases. We want to prevent cholera. We want to prevent typhoid. We want to prevent dysentery. And we also want to prevent malaria,” Dr Moyo said.
According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website Common global water-related diseases caused by parasites include Guinea worm, schistosomiasis, amebiasis, cryptosporidiosis (Crypto), and giardiasis.
“People become infected with these diseases when they swallow or have contact with water that has been contaminated by certain parasites. For example, individuals drinking water contaminated with fecal matter containing the ameba Entamoeba histolytica can get amebic dysentery (amebiasis). An individual can get Guinea worm disease when they drink water that contains the parasite Dracunculus medinensis. If an infected person with an open Guinea worm wound enters a pond or well used for drinking water, they can spread the parasite into the water and continue the cycle of contamination and infection. Schistosomiasis can be spread when people swim in or have contact with freshwater lakes that are contaminated with Schistosoma parasites,” reads the website.
The World Health Organisation states that workers routinely handling corpses are at high risk of contracting gastrointestinal infections.
“Gastrointestinal infections are more common as dead bodies commonly leak faeces. Transmission occurs via the faeco-oral route through direct contact with the body and soiled clothes or contaminated vehicles or equipment. Dead bodies contaminating the water supply may also cause gastrointestinal infections,” says WHO.
Adds WHO, “Malaria epidemics in the wake of flooding are a well-known phenomenon in malaria-endemic areas world-wide.”
Meanwhile, International Red Cross Community chipped in with a timely US$80 000 worth of emergency medical sundries and medications for the Cyclone Idai victims.
Zimbabwe Red Cross Society Deputy Secretary General Mr Morris Machawira said they will continue engaging their sister national societies, and their mother bodies in helping distressed communities.
“As Red Cross we are also a partner in these disasters. As you know our auxiliary role is to complement the efforts of the government. So we have been on the ground with our Volunteers right from the day one when this disaster started. So yes we have communities that we always train first aid and it is that skill that is able to help in such situations.
“ So we continue to collaborate with our government, with our sister national societies, with our International Community Of The Red Cross , International Federation Of The Red Cross in order to mobilise resources that go a long way in helping these communities that are affected,” he said.