THE Harare City Health Department has activated emergency Cholera response systems in the midst of an unfolding Cholera situation which has seen three confirmed, and 11 suspected cholera cases being recorded over the past five days in Budiriro 1.
By Michael Gwarisa
The 11 suspected cases and the confirmed three, all emanate from one area in Budiriro 1 where residents get water from an unprotected water source. The new development raises fears of a repeat of the 2008 and 2018 Cholera outbreak that killed and infected several thousands of people.
Speaking during a Media Science Café organized by the Health Communicators Forum in Zimbabwe (HCF), City of Harare Epidemiologist, Dr Michael Vere said they have Already closed the Well which is the source of the infections.
We have got 11 suspected Cholera cases but amongst these cases, three have been confirmed already. The first cases was recorded on the 22nd of April and this was a 15 year old Child who stays in Budiriro 1 and has got no history of travel to any of the areas affected so far by Cholera in Zimbabwe or in the region.
“We are investigating local sources of this infection and so far, what has been done is that we have taken water samples from the water sources of these 11 cases and there is a common source which is Well at one of the households of these cases. This is a Well that we are suspecting and we have also closed the Well and we have also collected samples from surrounding boreholes and some well close to that area and we are awaiting results,” said Dr Vere.
Budiriro has been Zimbabwe’s leading Cholera Hotspot since the worst outbreak of 2008. According to World Health Organisation Zimbabwe data, in 2008, approximately half of cholera cases have been recorded in Budiriro, a heavily populated suburb on the western outskirts of the capital, Harare. As of 9 December, 16 141 suspected cases of cholera and 775 resultant deaths (case fatality rate of 4.8%) had been recorded since August in two-thirds of the country’s 62 districts.
Dr Vere added that the figures recorded to date could be higher if the City of Harare was to factor in cases from places like Dzivarasekwa Extension. However, due to Geographical boundaries, the place now lies in Mashonalnd West and not under Harare. The one death that has been recorded was from Dvivarasekwa Extension which according to Dr Vere is not in their jurisdiction.
The City of Harare health department has since deployed clean water bowsers to the affected areas in a bid to curb the further spread of cholera through drinking contaminated water. They have also directed sister departments to increase water supplies to areas. Dr Vere added that cases are currently being managed at local level, at Clinics in particular where they are treating cases and managing any suspected symptoms.
Speaking at the same event however, Harare Residents Trust (HRT) Director, Mr Precious Shumba castigated the lack of prioritization of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Situation by Harare City council.
“Cholera occurs sporadically where water supply, sanitation, food safety, hygiene are inadequate (City of Harare, 2009). Vending sites have no water and sanitation facilities. There are no toilets or sources of water to service the majority of vendors in the communities.
“Water is in short supply across the suburbs with residents largely dependent on community boreholes and shallow wells, especially in Mabvuku, Tafara, Glen Norah, Chitungwiza, Epworth, Budiriro, Glen View. Reports of sewerage bursts are not being urgently attended to when they are made to council offices dotted across the suburbs. There is very poor responsiveness of the council in tackling this health challenge,” said Mr Shumba.