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warn of 'public health crisis' as typhoid reported in
Bell, SW Radio Africa
October 25, 2012
A doctors' group in Zimbabwe has warned of a potentially devastating
public health crisis in the form of a nationwide typhoid epidemic,
with more cases of the disease being reported this week.
13 fresh cases
of typhoid have been reported in Chegutu where the local authority
has been slammed for failing for provide fresh water. The disease
is spread through contaminated water and, like its bacterial cousin
cholera, can be deadly.
have been reported in different parts of Zimbabwe since last year,
with the worst affected areas being the densely populated suburbs
around Harare's centre, including Kuwadzana and Mufakose.
That initial outbreak was then followed by more cases that were
confirmed in Bindura, Mashonaland Central and Norton and Zvimba
in Mashonaland West. More incidents have also been reported in Chitungwiza
So far there
have been two confirmed deaths from the almost 5,000 suspected cases
registered across the country.
But with the
onset of the rainy season there are serious warnings that the disease
will continue to spread.
this year the Health Ministry admitted it was not on top of the
situation, with a critical lack of medicine and clean water hampering
treatment and prevention efforts. Many local councils too have been
unable to provide proper sanitation to their residents, blaming
broken down sewerage systems and water pipes for this failure.
Bonde, the chairperson of the Zimbabwe
Doctors for Human Rights, told SW Radio Africa on Thursday that
the ongoing spread of typhoid is a strong indictment of local and
national government, because the basic human right of access to
water is being denied.
needs to be a plan for permanent solution of water access and sanitation
or these diseases will continue to be a threat. The local authorities
should not be going for good case management when diseases strike,
they should be focused on prevention," Dr. Bonde said.
She also criticised
the authorities for not "learning its lesson," since
the deadly cholera outbreak that started in 2008. That outbreak,
which was only brought under control about two years later, resulted
in the deaths of an estimated 4,000 people countrywide.
more of a wake up call do the local authorities need? They should
have learned from the cholera outbreak that something needed to
be done about access to clean water," Dr. Bonde said.
said that the rains will likely drive the situation to a crisis,
with the disease spreading faster. She recommended that the basic
practice of hand washing was the first best defence against the
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