By Anna Chibamu
AMID an upsurge of cholera cases in Harare, Health Minister Douglas Mombeshora said he was disturbed to note that some residents in the capital were using plastic bags to dispose of their excreta which contaminates open wells during flooding.
Mombeshora was responding to journalists’ questions during a press conference in Harare over the cholera outbreak that has claimed 67 lives countrywide.
“People are throwing diapers everywhere. The solid garbage that we are removing is also another cause of bacteria spreading that causes cholera, typhoid and dysentery.
“We have seen that in most of these dumps, there are diapers. People are just throwing these into the streets and when rains come, they are washed away into drains or shallow wells. Remember these are faeces.
“Not only diapers are being abused. In some improper settlements (illegal settlements), some people are using plastic bags to collect their stools, throwing them into these dumps. This is the reason we are now focusing on removing the solid waste,” Mombeshora said.
Cholera cases have drastically increased in the past week with over 15 000 suspected cases being recorded.
In response to the desperate situation, the government has launched “Operation Chenesa Harare” where the central government has sourced funds to remove all dirt in a week.
In just a day, the minister reported that Highfield had 89 cases of cholera and two deaths this week.
The minister attributed the surge in cholera cases to increased mobility during the festive season as well as floodwaters in some parts of the city.
“In Harare for example, in Kuwadzana during one of my visits, I noticed some illegal settlements without proper sanitation/ablution facilities and clean potable water. There is no clean potable water to drink as well as poor ablution facilities. Most use blair toilets.
“During the current floods, this causes cross-contamination, most of the shallow wells are contaminated with more than one type of bacteria. We have done sampling this past week. E-coli has been found with other types of bacteria that cause typhoid, dysentery, and cholera which are all now in some of these water sources,” added the Minister.
Meanwhile, the government says it will source for funding to procure chemicals for water purification by the City Council.
The City Council was purifying as little as 200 mega litres of water from 350 mega litres due to the unavailability of chemicals.