City officials in Harare, Zimbabwe, have launched a campaign to close open-air food markets in the city’s high-density suburbs, aiming to curb the spread of typhoid which has broken out in the populous suburbs of Kuwadzana and Dzivarasekwa.
As many as 50 cases of typhoid are being recorded daily with more than 1,500 people treated in an outbreak blamed on poor water and sanitation facilities.
No deaths have been reported from the various outbreaks, however.
"By the end of December 2011, more than 1,500 cases had been seen and treated," Health Minister Dr. Henry Madzorera told journalists at a news press conference Tuesday. "An average of 30 to 50 cases are reported on a daily basis."
Typhoid is transmitted by contaminated food and water, and infected individuals.
Referring to the city's broken water and sewage pipes, Madzorera said: "The progressive deterioration of public health infrastructure has seen such rare diseases as typhoid becoming more commonly encountered within our population."
Madzorera appealed to the government to "refurbish the water, sanitation and sewerage infrastructure as a matter of urgency" following years of neglect and deterioration.
Harare councilor Peter Moyo, spearheading the anti-typhoid campaign, said city officials are not trying to punish vendors but trying to save lives. He said vendors will be allowed to reopen stalls once water and sanitation issues are satisfactorily addressed.
But Combined Harare Residents Association Chief Executive Mfundo Mlilo said the city council’s clean-sweep of public food markets is misdirected and will not help address the water problems facing ordinary residents of the city's crowded suburbs.