GWERU – More than 50 typhoid cases are being recorded daily at Gweru’s healthcare facilities as the city buckles under the weight of the deadly waterborne disease.
According to Gweru Residents Forum (GRF) director Charles Mazorodze, investigations they carried out showed that at least 1 000 cases had been reported to Mkoba Polyclinic alone by August 15.
A typhoid outbreak surfaced in Gweru three weeks ago, affecting Mkoba 15, 18 and 20 with at least 10 deaths having been recorded since then.
Typhoid is a serious fever caused by consuming contaminated food or water. It affects people in areas where water quality and sanitation are low.
“On August 5, when GRF visited Mkoba 2 clinic, there were about 20 patients admitted for typhoid. Of those affected, more than 60 percent were children below the age of 10 years.
“The source and ways in which typhoid is being spread has however been a subject of debate in the city.
“Firstly, there has been contamination of the council’s own potable water sources which have been confirmed in Mkoba 18, 20 and 21 where the houses’ water tested positive for salmonella. There was also a burst pipe which mixed with sewage in Mkoba 18,” Mazorodze said.
He said in July, there was a time when council conducted a citywide shutdown in order to clean the water tanks at the Kopje Range Booster.
Mazorodze said the cleaning did not occur as council employees forgot to clean the pipes and ended up pumping water with the residue to residents.
“Management have reports that some people might have used water from wells contaminated by Ecoli and sewage in Mkoba 19.
“There are also some claims by council that Mkoba 19 and 20 have alternating days where faecal matter is tested in some boreholes,” he said.
Community Water programmes manager Hardlife Mudzingwa said the alarm on typhoid was raised before when Senga high density suburb went without water for days without any explanation.
Mudzingwa said then the city did not address the matter which later resurfaced in Mkoba, leading to the unfortunate deaths of people.
He said in order to address the challenges in the city, government needed to prioritise water and sanitation budget from the paltry 2,5 percent to at least 10 percent.
“There needs to be proper coordination between central and local government instead of this pointing fingers game they are playing while lives are being lost.
“The two organs should also address the root causes of the outbreak and stop harassing vendors they now claim are the drivers of typhoid,” Mudzingwa said.
Gweru’s Mkoba high density suburbs are indiscriminately subjected to water rationing exercises by the city council despite the high population density in the area.
Another issue is that the city only has one refuse truck to service the whole of Gweru, leaving some areas without garbage collection for over one month.