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Harare Residents Worry As Typhoid Outbreak Spreads to More Suburbs

  • Tatenda Gumbo

Harare has treated more than 1,500 people for typhoid, with up to 50 new cases being reported every day in the outbreak of the bacterial disease which until now was centered in Kuwadzana high density suburb

The Zimbabwean government has come under heavy fire for its inept response to the growing typhoid crisis in the capital Harare that has spread to 41 districts around the city.

As of Thursday, Harare had treated more than 1,500 people for the bacterial disease, with up to 50 new cases being reported every day.

In recent weeks typhoid was only centered in the Kuwadzana high density suburb, but the governmet's poorly response made it easy to spread to other residential areas.

Residents say the response by the government and the city council has been inadequate. Authorities blame the outbreak on unlicensed vendors who sell fresh fish and other perishables on the streets, but some residents disagree.

Angry city dwellers are now taking aim at the local council for failing to collect garbage and repairing burst sewer pipes saying these factors, coupled with the water crisis are the real reasons behind outbreak and escalation of typhoid.

Queues at borehole water sites erected by local humanitarian agencies in areas such as Budiriro, Kambuzuma, Mufakose and Kuwadzana are a stark reminder of the failure by the council to deal with the challenges that led to the 2008-2009 cholera outbreak that affected thousands.

Angelina Mureriwa, a resident of Kuwadzana Extension, told VOA that uncollected garbage in many residential areas may be a contributing factor. He said the poor service delivery by the council, even as it continues to collect rates from residents, was an indictment on the local authority.

Another resident, Stanley Chihota, of Budiro attacked city officials for allegedly lining their pockets at the expense of service delivery.

Health officials are urging residents to increase hygienic practices to curb the spread of the disease and other diarrheal ailments.

For perspective, VOA reporter Tatenda Gumbo turned to Itai Rusike, executive director of the Community Group on Health, and Dr. Douglas Gwatidzo, chairman of the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights.

Gwatidzo blamed the city’s poor water supply for the worsening crisis while Rusike urged residents to maintain strong hygienic practices.