Tuesday, 16 June 2020


BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) has temporarily exempted Luveve suburb from water shedding after five people who were admitted to Mpilo Central Hospital suffering from diarrhoea died while those suffering from the disease will now be treated for free.

The temporary lifting of water shedding and free treatment at council clinics for those suffering from diarrhoea comes at a time when BCC said it would soon release results of water tests conducted after some people blamed their illness on the municipal water.

The council is implementing a 144-hour weekly water shedding programme as part of measures to conserve the city’s dwindling water supplies.

The city’s supply dams recorded insignificant inflows last rainy season and they are now at 28 percent full just about six months into the year. 

Acting Mpilo Central Hospital clinical director Dr Xolani Ndlovu said 59 people had been admitted to the hospital complaining of diarrhoea and five of them, four children and one adult had since died.

“We’ve done tests for typhoid or shigella that causes dysentery but so far the results that we have received are negative for both diseases. We have communicated this information to the director City Health Dr (Edwin) Sibanda. They are also running their tests on the water to find out what could have been the problem so that we know what caused the diarrhoea. The Bulawayo City Health can respond to what they found in the water,” he said.

Dr Ndlovu urged residents to quickly seek treatment at either clinics or hospitals if they suffer from diarrhoea as delays can lead to death. He also encouraged good personal hygiene to prevent diseases.

“When people suffering from diarrhoea seek treatment late, they risk being affected by acute kidney failure. A number of patients are coming here very late hence the fatalities we are witnessing which could be avoided by seeking treatment early. People have a tendency of trying to manage the illnes in its infancy instead of seeking treatment early,” said Dr Ndlovu.

He said it emerged during a meeting chaired by Bulawayo Provincial Affairs Minister Cde Judith Ncube yesterday that many residents were not seeking treatment early.

Dr Ndlovu said lack of money to pay for treatment was blamed for the delays in seeking treatment.

“The meeting agreed to waive user fees for diarrhoea patients as well as ambulance fees in the event an ambulance is called to rush the patient to either clinic or hospital. I think it’s that information that people need to know so that they do not delay to seek treatment as has been the case in the past,” said Dr Ndlovu.

Dr Sibanda said council had engaged the Ministry of Health and Child Care regarding the issue of free treament of diarrhoea patients from Luveve suburb.

Minister Ncube said Government was waiting for water tests results to make a decision on the way forward. 

“Samples have been taken to the laboratories for testing and it is only when the results are out that a decision can be taken. At the moment it is premature to conclude that the diarrhoea is as a result of municipal water. We need these results like yesterday so that we make an informed decision on the way forward and council’s director of health services Dr Sibanda said the results would be released by the end of today. We don’t want to rush to make a decision before the results are out,” said Minister Ncube.

She said council had informed her that it had temporarily suspended water shedding in Luveve suburb pending the outcome of the investigations.

“The City Engineer (director of Engineering Services Engineer Simela Dube) did tell us that Luveve will be exempt from water shedding until the diarrhoea outbreak is contained,” she said.

BCC Senior Public relations officer Mrs Nesisa Mpofu said council is still waiting for results of the water tests.

The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) said it has since initiated its own investigations into the quality of the city’s water.

EMA provincial manager Mr Decent Ndlovu said his team was on the ground assessing the situation and will make public its findings.

The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) corporate communications and marketing manager Mrs Marjorie Munyonga said the authority supplies council with raw water and treatment is done by the local authority.

“In Bulawayo our client is the city council which treats and provides water to its residents. We are not involved in the water treatment process,” said Mrs Munyonga. 

A Chronicle news crew recently caught up with a family of one of the people who died due to the diarrhoea. Thabiso Nyoni (16), a pupil from Emakhandeni suburb died last week on Monday and his family blamed his death on the city’s water.

Thabiso’s cousin Miss Xolani Phiri said two weeks ago, the suburb received dirty tap water after days without water as a result of water shedding.

“It seems the water was dirty and smelly. We realised it a bit late after drinking the water without boiling it. After that we all suffered serious diarrhoea including the late Thabiso. After a few days we started recovering but it was not the same with Thabiso,” said Miss Phiri.
She said Thabiso lost weight and could hardly speak before they rushed him to Mpilo Central Hospital on Monday. Miss Phiri said he died on Wednesday afternoon.

Quizzed on why they delayed to take him to hospital earlier, she said they initially thought it was just a running tummy which could stop on its own.

“We all at some point suffer from a running tummy, it’s like having a headache you first take home remedies. So that’s what we thought it would be with Thabiso. We had also suffered similar diarrhoea but had recovered. We thought he would recover as well,” she said.

Old Luveve suburb residents told of their personal experiences following the diarrhoea outbreak.

Mr Amon Phiri, a resident in the same suburb said taking the sugar and salt solution saved his life.

“In my house, the diarrhoea started with my tenant, his wife and child. They all experienced serious running stomach. While we were still trying to comprehend what was happening, I was also affected. I had a gruelling experience for three to four days but after taking the sugar and salt solution, I started recovering,” said Mr Phiri.

He said he later learnt that many people in the same suburb were having the same problem while others were admitted to Mpilo Central Hospital.
Mr Phiri said residents reported the matter to council and officials came and collected samples. He said council officials urged residents to clean their water containers.

“So, what I don’t understand is that the whole suburb failed to clean their water containers which does not make sense to me,” said Mr Phiri. Chronicle


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