HARARE – The fast-approaching rainy season will most likely worsen the cholera outbreak in the country, health experts have warned.
The rainy season is closely linked to the spread of cholera as sewage and soil components containing the bacteria are most likely to be transferred from one place to the other by flowing water.
Zimbabwe Environmental Health Practitioners Association(Zehpa) President Patrick Mirirai said studies have proven a strong relationship between the rains and cholera, hence the ministry of Health and Health Services Board should employ environmental health personnel as a matter of urgency to manage new outbreaks during the rainy season.
“Increased rainfall is associated with increased cholera. There is need for government to increase environmental health practitioners on the ground for continued surveillance and monitoring.
“We also urge the ministry of Health and local authorities to improve the staff complement of environmental health practitioners which is extremely thin at the moment,” he said.
Mirirai said these professionals are important as they are able to manage the outbreaks because the rainy season is very challenging. He said his organisation has trained people who can easily be absorbed into the system.
He urged Zehpa staff members to strengthen health and hygiene education, strengthen water quality monitoring, strengthen food quality and hygiene monitoring in the community, monitor and professionally supervise burials of cholera victims.
Zimbabwe Association of Doctors, vice chairperson Fungisai Mazhandu concurred with Mirirai saying the approaching rainy season will increase the spread of the cholera because the clean water will mix with the dirty water. “We are talking about the water table being currently compromised in terms of the boreholes, the cause being the issue that people have built their sewer drainage systems, their own personal sewer drainage systems and the boreholes are close together so when the rains come, it will lead to more spread of cholera,” she said.
Mazhandu urged people to demonstrate the things that they have been taught by health experts which include washing their hands under running water, boiling water and making sure they are hydrated.