HARARE – Vendors are the main catalyst of diarrheal diseases breaking out, a top Women Unlimited official has said.
Women Unlimited is a non-political humanitarian organisation that aims to complement government efforts in the prevention and control of non-communicable disease (NCDs) and diarrheal diseases within targeted communities.
Speaking to the Daily News in Epworth at a donation of medical supplies and glucose testing kits to the local health clubs by the Chinese Embassy on Monday, Vimbai Kapurura Mutasa, executive director of Women Unlimited, said the Epworth community must be empowered with knowledge.
“Vendors are the main catalyst to diarrheal diseases and the idea is that when they sell goods such as food, sweets and cigarettes they must insist on buyers washing their hands,” Mutasa said.
“Vendors should ensure that the food purchased is clean and bacteria free.”
The organisation targeted vendors in Epworth because in 2008 it was one of the hardest hit communities during the cholera outbreak.
“Epworth has water challenges and we want to encourage them to keep the well areas clean and tidy and covered to prevent bacteria and dirt from contaminating the water source,” Mutasa said.
“Imparting knowledge to this target group will help in reducing the number of diarrheal incidences experienced in this settlement.
“Our organisation with the support of the Chinese Embassy and the ministry of Health will reach out to more than 50 000 households where information on diarrheal and NCDs will be shared, monitoring of each other’s drug intake, and to provide psychosocial support, to help provide adequate support to community members.”
She said vendors will be targeted through community health clubs.
“We want to make the community aware of these diseases, so that they know what exactly is happening to their bodies,” Mutasa said. “And when they understand, they should seek medical help as soon as possible.”
A team of the Chinese doctors donated medical supplies and glucose testing kits to the health clubs and the Epworth community to help control and prevent diseases.
Removing excreta and cleaning hands with soap after contact with faecal material, from using the toilet or cleaning a child, prevents the transmission of the bacteria, viruses and protozoa that cause diarrheal diseases
With research showing that a majority of vendors around the country sell their wares, including fruits, vegetables and cigarettes in potentially hazardous conditions, concerns abound that this gives rise to the proliferation of such diseases.
A record 420 000 diarrhoeal cases have been recorded since January this year and nearly 400 people were killed, raising fears of another 2008 epidemic that killed over 4 000 people due to cholera.
Experts say comprehensive hand-washing can help reduce diarrheal pathogens and preventative measures must go beyond the ordinary vectors such as poor sanitation facilities, uncovered food and unprotected water sources, but other things such as cigarettes and consumptive goodies.