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Harare Grapples With Typhoid But Residents Say Not Enough Being Done

  • Mavis Gama

Harare city officials have taken satisfaction in the reduced number of daily new cases of typhoid being reported - but residents remain displeased with the shortages of clean running water they must continue to endure

Efforts continue in Harare, Zimbabwe's capital, to end ongoing outbreaks of typhoid.

The central government has mounted an anti-typhoid information campaign in a bid to halt the spread of the disease, while Harare officials have concentrated on stopping the sale of foods by vendors that they say could transmit the typhoid bacteria.

Harare city officials have taken satisfaction in the reduced number of daily new cases of typhoid being reported in the capital - but residents remain displeased with the severe shortages of clean running water that they must continue to endure.

Efforts to rid Harare of the typhoid outbreak have been going on for weeks now but the council is failing to rid the city of uncollected garbage. Not has it been able to repair burst sewer pipes that are believed to be aiding the spread of the disease.

City health workers stationed at treatment centers are disseminating information, in particular to those who have survived one bout with typhoid.

Maxwell Hungwe, a nurse at the Beatrice Infectious Diseases Hospital, said typhoid is highly infectious so the best way to deal with it is through prevention measures.

Harare resident Marble Ganyiwa said that while the city council is focusing its energies on removing vendors, it is not sufficiently addressing other factors in the outbreaks such as uncollected garbage, contaminated water supplies and burst sewer pipes.

The World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund are helping with the distribution of water treatment tablets. Health officials are advising residents that even water from boreholes be boiled or made safe through the use of tablets.

World Health Organization official Dr. Custodia Mondlhate called for unity among all health organizations to address typhoid outbreaks in Harare's densely populated suburbs.

One resident of the Budiriro suburb who asked to be identified only as Mai Pher said her area has not yet seen the kind of preventive measures put in place during the cholera epidemic of 2008-2009, which claimed 4,200 lives in the country.

Not everyone is working in the same direction. Harare Councilor Peter Moyo said police are invoking the draconian Public Order and Security Act to bar public meetings that the city has tried to organize to educate residents on disease countermeasures.

About 30 new cases of typhoid are being reported every day, officials said.