Kwekwe records spike in silicosis infections

Source: Kwekwe records spike in silicosis infections – The Southern Eye

KWEKWE has been recording an increase in cases of silicosis, an incurable lung disease caused by inhalation of dust containing crystalline silica, an abundant natural material found in stone, soil and sand.

The material, also said to be found in concrete, brick, mortar and other construction materials, affects millions of workers in hazardous occupations such as mines and kills thousands annually, according to the World Health Organisation.


Southern Eye has heard that authorities at Kwekwe General Hospital had increased the cost of medical oxygen as an unusual high number of patients present to the hospital with silicosis.

“My nephew has been admitted here for a long time and we have been paying huge sums of money to access oxygen,” the relative of the admitted nephew said.

“He is suffering from silicosis. We heard that there is a shortage of medical oxygen at the hospital, that is why they raised oxygen charges.”


Kwekwe General Hospital acting medical superintendent Bruce Mhondiwa confirmed that the public hospital had seen an increase in the number of patients suffering from silicosis.

“Seven male patients are admitted at our hospital, we lost one a few days ago. He was admitted at the end of 2022,” Mhondiwa said.

“Silicosis is a progressive scarring of lung tissue from inhalation of dust, usually in mines. Many patients present it late, and it’s associated with tuberculosis. There is no cure for silicosis and these patients have to rely on medical oxygen.


“One challenge for the patients is the prolonged hospital stay because they cannot go home, they cannot afford oxygen concentrators and oxygen.”


Mhondiwa, however, dismissed claims of medical oxygen shortages at the hospital.

“The government gave us many oxygen concentrators to the extent that we still have some in boxes,” he said.

“In addition to that, we get free medical oxygen from the British Oxygen Company. Our intensive care unit has piped oxygen, which has never run out.”

Silicosis symptoms include a persistent cough, shortness of breath, difficulty in breathing as well as fatigue, fever and night sweats.