By Wendy Muperi
Zimbabwe is not doing enough to address service delivery failings that are causing endless outbreaks of waterborne disease and the loss of life, health minister David Parirenyatwa has said.
Parirenyatwa said this on Monday while giving an update on the cholera outbreak in Chegutu which has since claimed four lives.
Two other people are being treated of the deadly bacteria with 32 booked as suspected cases. Of the total affected, 19 are male and 15 females.
“Chegutu municipality has a critical shortage of water due to aging infrastructure like most towns in Zimbabwe and this needs to be addressed,” said Parirenyatwa.
“We see people (with cholera), and treat them, but we still have the problem. Local authorities must really up their game; it’s unacceptable to have water of that quality.
“Waste management is still a challenge. You say ministry of Health, but really the problem is created elsewhere. It’s really irritating and annoying.”
The minister said local authorities also need to come up with lasting solutions on street vending of food and fruits.
“People buy and eat all these (fruits and food) on the streets in unhygienic conditions putting themselves at risk of cholera and diarrhoeal diseases,” he said.
Avoid public gatherings
The minister added that traditional practices such as handshaking at funeral must be suspended until the country is no longer on high alert.
“Let’s avoid big gatherings during outbreaks (of cholera), let’s not shake hands at these gatherings and funerals.”
According to Parirenyatwa, all those affected disease attended the same Muslim funeral in Chegutu with some having “washed the body” while others “carried the body”.
Although some of the affected are said to be from Harare, specifically Epworth and Mabvuku, the ministry claims to have traced all of them and currently monitoring them.
Meanwhile, Unicef country representative Mohamed Ayoy, said it was commendable that the government has quickly acknowledged the cholera problem, saying this makes it easier to contain the outbreak.
“In many cases, what happens is that the government denies the problem and we only get together to fight when it becomes very difficult.
“By doing this honourable minister you are making sure that we are together to address this issue very quickly,” he said.
Apart from Unicef, the country’s cholera problem is also being addressed by the WHO.
Meanwhile, opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) spokesperson Jacob Mafume said president Emmerson Mnangagwa should cut down on his foreign trips and use the savings to fix water and sewer systems.
“The point we make is that the cholera outbreak at home can be combated by a more serious government which puts its people first,” said Mafume.
“The money being invested on the big delegation full of non-core actors can be put to better use, in areas where two or three people can do the job a sane leadership must not over deploy.”
Chegutu outbreak pictures: