Harare reports ‘significant’ decrease in cholera cases

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By Leopold Munhende

CHOLERA cases being recorded in Harare per day have decreased from an average of 150 per day to 50, city health director Clemence Duri has said.

Speaking during a recent tour of the epicentre of this year’s cholera outbreak at Tichagarika Shopping Centre in Glenview by the US ambassador to Zimbabwe Brian Nichols, Duri said council had, together with government, contained the outbreak but drivers of the disease were yet to be addressed.

“The numbers are coming down,” he said.

“We still have sporadic cases that are coming here and there but we hope we will be on top of the situation sooner than later.”

Duri continued; “Of the 25 patients we treated using water the other day, only one was positive.

“We are happy that, at least, we have managed to contain it around Glenview but as long as the drivers of cholera are not addressed then there is still a risk of us getting outbreaks again.

“There is a need for us to address issues of drivers such as water supply and that sewer stays in its pipes.”

The recent outbreak has been blamed on council’s poor sewer reticulation system and erratic water supply in the Glenview-Budiriro area.

Harare City Council has however, been engaged in a blame game with government on who should take responsibility for an epidemic which has killed 50 people.

Council says government should have invested in more water sources since independence while the Zanu PF administration maintains that the local authority has failed to offer basic services to its clients.

Ambassador Nichols was accompanied by members of the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) – an arm of the US defence department – and the mayor of Harare Herbert Gomba.

The ambassador, who replaced Harry Thomas weeks before the 30 July polls, said that the US government was already assisting in the fight against cholera through civic society and will call on more personnel if need arises.

America has invested nearly $100 million yearly in Zimbabwe’s public health system and is expected to provide about $150 million in aid to Harare by end of the 2018 fiscal year.

Although reports that the cholera outbreak has been contained will be welcome, failure by council to repair burst sewer pipes and provide water in other residential areas such as Mufakose, Chitungwiza, Mbare and Warren Park poses a danger to residents and presents a likelihood of another outbreak as the rainy season approaches.