With the annual rainy season in progress, scattered cases of diarrhea have cropped up in Harare suburbs and in Marondera, capital of Mashonaland East province, but health authorities said that no significant outbreak of disease is in the offing.
Memories are still fresh among Zimbabweans of the cholera epidemic of 2008-2009 that claimed more than 4,200 lives over 10 months from nearly 100,000 cases. Since then, however, water supplies in most population centers have been improved, though in Harare and other cities, the distribution system is aged, fragile and unreliable.
The Combined Harare Residents Association urged people to avoid drinking tap water in favor of water from boreholes or deep wells to avoid water-borne diseases.
Marondera resident Jack Manyawu said he had heard of cases of diarrhea, but did not believe the problem was widespread. He said clean water has been more available with the drilling of new boreholes and replacement of broken water pipes by the city.
Nonetheless, Manyawu urged the Harare government to resume public health information program to increase awareness of the risk of contamination of shallow wells.
Marondera Mayor Farai Nyandoro says his office had received no reports of diarrhea.
Zimbabwe Health Minister Henry Madzorera said the country is ready for health threats that may arise from the combination of heavy rains and porous water systems.
But Dr. Madzorera said he has had no reports of large diarrhea outbreaks in the capital or in the Mashonaland East capital contrary to reports in Newsday, a daily newspaper.
Dr. Madzorera told VOA Studio 7 reporter Marvellous Mhlanga-Nyahuye that people should still take precautions such as boiling water to avoid water-borne infections that are not uncommon when the rains spread bacteria or other contaminants.