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Typhoid outbreak spreads to Harare prisons

17/01/2017 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

THE typhoid outbreak in Harare has reportedly hit Chikurubi Security Maximum and Harare Central prisons with an unconfirmed number of prisoners said to have died while some of the affected inmates have been hospitalised.

Sources in the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) confirmed this week that the two penitentiaries were battling a serious typhoid outbreak.

“We have cases of prisoners who are dying from the typhoid outbreak at Chikurubi and Harare Central prisons due to inhumane and squalid living conditions as well as hunger. 

“The authorities are battling to contain the situation and those inmates suspected to be affected have been placed under isolation at the prison hospital.

“However, I have no information of the state of affairs at other prisons,” a prison officer based at Chikurubi prison said this week.

The officer said the outbreak had been worsened by overcrowding, poor hygiene and sanitary facilities as well as the unpreparedness of the authorities to deal with the situation.

“Both prisoners and prison officials are leaving in fear of the outbreak as there are no measures in place at the moment to contain the situation,” he said.

“The situation is dire and the situation is compounded by the fact that the inmates are going hungry most of the time as there is no adequate food in prison. The government should ask donor agencies to move in and avert the crisis.

“The lack of food in the prisons has also seen a high number of prisoners suffering from diseases such as scurvy and pellagra.”

The officer said the rains over the past few days had worsened the crisis as some facilities in the prisons had become flooded and water was mixing with raw sewer from burst pipes.

The spread of the disease to Harare’s prisons comes when the government and the Harare City Council are battling to contain the outbreak in the capital.

The outbreak is reported to have killed at least nine people across the country with over 200 reported to have been hospitalised and treated.

In 2008, an unconfirmed number of prisoners died during the cholera outbreak that year as the government and local authorities failed to halt the epidemic, which killed over 4 000 people across the country.

Health minister David Parirenyatwa has said his ministry will not win the war against typhoid unless it gets $250 000 to remove waste and sanitise the country’s sewer.


Efforts to get a comment from ZPCS officials were unsuccessful.

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