ZAHDR raises concern over gastrointestinal disease in Bulawayo

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Cynthia Chitombi

The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZAHDR) has raised concern over the outbreak of diarrhea and other water borne related diseases in Bulawayo at a time the country is battling with the coronavirus.

In a statement, ZAHDR stated that so far at least 1 500 suspected cases and 9 deaths have been recorded and this was being attributed to the serious water crisis which the second largest city, Bulawayo, is facing.

“The outbreak compounds an already existing public health crisis posed by the Covid-19 pandemic,” the ZAHDR said.

The City of Bulawayo adopted the outbreak containment measures in responding to the crisis through the setting up of four treatment centres specifically for children, adult screening, and treatment and resuscitation facilities.

Just like the covid-19 measures, the Ministry of Health and ZAHDR have also set up containment measure through the activation of a rapid response team to conduct door-to-door searches for diarrhea patients.

Plans are also underway to increase raw water supplies to the city through pumping water from Mtshabezi, Insiza, Inyakhuni dams, as well as the Epping Forest and Rochester Aquifers.

The association said that while they welcome these interventions by the ministry of Health and Child Care, they believe that a lasting solution should be found to deal with the crisis.
“There is need for a combination of immediate, short and long-term responses to the water crisis in all urban centres across Zimbabwe to mitigate unnecessary morbidity and mortality from water borne diseases such  as typhoid, cholera and other forms of infectious diseases,” the Association said.

The ZADHR stated that Bulawayo should come up with mitigatory measures to provide clean and safe water through use of bowsers, drilling of boreholes in affected areas and other areas to respond to the growing crisis.

The Association further said that the council must conduct awareness campaigns on water treatment methods for home use such as boiling water and use of home certified treatment chemicals.

“For a more sustained response, ZADHR calls the government to expedite the completion of the Matebeleland Zambezi Water Project so as to address the perennial water challenges in Bulawayo and the Matebeleland Region,” ZADHR said in a statement.

With the existing measures in place to mitigate the covid-19 pandemic, ZADHR further urges the city of Bulawayo to synergise the response to the diarrhoea outbreak.

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