Sunday 11 September 2022


THE  diarrhoea outbreak that Bulawayo is battling with has so far claimed one life, while cases of the gastro-intestinal disease have continued to soar.

According to the City’s Health Services Department, cases have shot to 1 359 as of  Thursday afternoon. A total of 700 people have so far recovered, while 659 cases remain active and are still being monitored. Bulawayo Health Services Divisional Environmental Health Officer Dr Nhlonipho Sibanda said the death was reported in the “north suburbs clinical district” with further details to be provided in due course. She said the most affected suburbs were Pumula, Luveve, Nkulumane, Mzilikazi and Tshabalala.

“As of 8 September 2022, cumulative total number of diarrhoea cases was 1 359. As of 8 September 2022, a cumulative total of 700 recoveries and one death had been reported. Affected suburbs include Pumula (53,7 percent), Luveve (15,5 percent), Nkulumane (14,3  percent), Mzilikazi (10,7 percent), Tshabalala (5,8 percent),” she said.

Dr Sibanda said following intensified health messaging and other interventions in the city, the department had observed changes in health and hygiene etiquette but said some communities were still difficult to penetrate.

“Some patients are taking heed of health advice. However, some are not, as some of the same risk factors are still being observed. These include unsafe alternative water sources, poor hygiene practices, poor health seeking behaviour, overcrowding, whereas some challenges include refusal by patients to produce stool for analysis, wrong addresses given at health facility level thereby hindering patient follow up. There are slight improvements in health seeking behaviour. But we continue to encourage the community to visit their health facilities in good time whenever they pass three or more stool within 24 hours.” 

Poor water and sanitation have been identified as a major cause of the outbreak, as the city has an ongoing 72-hour water shedding programme. The World Health Organisation (WHO), classifies diarrhoea as the second leading cause of death among children under the age of five, killing more than half a million children annually.

“Interventions in place include robust, context specific Emergency Response Mechanisms that include some of the following active case finding, contact tracing, health education, risk assessment, waiver of clinic charges for BCC clinics on outbreak mode, distribution of non-food items to population at risk (documented vulnerable population and reported sewer choke affected areas),” said Dr Sibanda.

Speaking to Sunday News on Friday, Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association chairperson Mr Ambrose Sibindi said residents feared increased water shedding would worsen the outbreak following the decommissioning of Umzingwane Dam on Friday afternoon by council.

Bulawayo City Council corporate communications manager Mrs Nesisa Mpofu said council was aware of the challenges brought by the ongoing water challenges and urged residents to use water sparingly, while exercising highest possible hygiene standards at home to prevent water-borne diseases.  Sunday News



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