No lessons learnt from 2008 cholera epidemic

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IN YESTERDAY’S edition, we published a story saying 3,7 million people are exposed to communicable diseases such as typhoid and diarrhoea due to critical water shortages across the country.
According to the United Nations Office for Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs, cases of typhoid and diarrhoea were on the rise in Harare and Bulawayo as a result of drying up of water sources and lack of adequate chemicals
to treat the precious liquid.

As of last week, the cumulative typhoid cases were 717 with 10 deaths and for diarrhoea there are 239 858 cases and 115 deaths across the country. Bulawayo alone had recorded 400 diarrhoea cases since September.

The outbreak of communicable diseases is a result of inefficient supply of clean water and the use of unprotected water sources by residents in the two cities and other areas in the country.

There is great fear that if the diarrhoea and typhoid are not immediately contained, cholera will hit the two cities and may spread to other areas in the country.

The outbreak, coupled with reports that in some areas raw sewage is finding its way into the cities’ water reticulation systems, is disturbing to say the least.

Clearly no lessons have been learnt from the 2008 cholera epidemic that claimed more than 4 000 lives. This was a result of gross incompetence by our local authorities. There is need for the government and city councils to work together to end the diarrhoea and typhoid outbreaks in Harare and Bulawayo to avert another crisis that may result in unnecessary loss of lives.

The Local Government ministry should be seized with this issue and work with the councils to avert a looming disaster. The government should ensure that Bulawayo and Harare have properly working reticulation systems to allow continuous availability of clean and safe water to all residential and commercial areas of the two cities.

Supplying clean and safe water is not a Zanu PF or MDC issue. It affects all residents and the current water woes in both Harare and Bulawayo must be urgently addressed pronto. It’s sad to learn that residents are now being
forced to buy water from those with boreholes and wells. Sexual harassment is also reportedly rampant, with water “barons” demanding sex in exchange for the precious liquid.

This must be brought to an end now!

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