Monday 26 June 2023


FOUR members of an apostolic sect succumbed to cholera in Chirumhanzu District in the Midlands Province after attending a church gathering.

Health officials have attributed the outbreak to poor sanitation, contaminated water supplies and cross-border mobility.

Cholera is transmitted directly through food or water contaminated with faecal material from an infected person.

Most infected people develop no symptoms or only mild diarrhoea. However, approximately one in 10 infected people develop severe cholera, which causes symptoms including watery diarrhoea, vomiting, rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, muscle cramps, restlessness, or irritability.

Symptoms typically appear two or three days after exposure but can develop up to five days after exposure.

Individuals with severe cholera can develop acute renal failure, severe electrolyte imbalances and coma. If left untreated, these can lead to shock and rapid death.

Speaking during a recent Midlands provincial chiefs’ advocacy meeting, the provincial epidemiology and disease control officer, Dr Reginald Mhene said the four fatalities were recorded in Chirumanzu District.

He, however, said the disease has since been contained.

“The province recorded a total of 11 cases of cholera mainly in Chirumhanzu and Zvishavane districts. Of the 11 cases, four people succumbed to the disease in Chirumanzu and they had been to an apostolic sect gathering. We have since contained the disease,” said Dr Mhene.

He urged chiefs throughout the province to play their part in using their influence by conscientising religious sects to seek medical attention early to avoid unnecessary loss of life.

“We call upon you the traditional leaders to take a leading role in conscientising your subjects and the religious sects to be on the lookout for such diseases when they gather. If they suspect any case, they should seek early treatment to save lives,” said Dr Mhene.

He said the province is also facing other challenges such as bilharzia, trachoma, drug and substance abuse and Covid-19.

Dr Mhene said trachoma is the leading preventable cause of blindness worldwide and it’s very contagious.

Trachoma is a disease of the eye caused by infection with the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis.

It is a public health problem in 44 countries and is responsible for the blindness or visual impairment of about 1,9 million people.

Blindness from trachoma is irreversible

Dr Mhene said the Ministry of Health and Child Care has managed 65 percent coverage of the trachoma mass drug administration programme in Gweru District, which is a hotspot for the disease.

“Azithromycin pills are there at all clinics throughout Gweru District and those that have not taken the drug should visit their nearest health centres where the drug is being administered for free,” he said.

Dr Mhene said bilharzia hotspots include Gokwe North and South, Mberengwa and Kwekwe.

He said cases have, however, decreased from over 6 000 to about 4 500 between 2018 and 2022.

The province has Covid-19 active cases in Chirumanzu, Gweru, Mberengwa and Zvishavane Districts.

“Deaths have gone down because of vaccination but it is important to note that we are still recording cases and therefore those that have not been vaccinated should do so,” he said.

Dr Mhene said the Ministry was also conducting drug and substance abuse awareness in schools, universities and other hotspots.

“We have mental health issues as a result of drug and substance abuse among youths. Over 500 drug and substance abuse cases were recorded in the province between January and May this year.

Midlands provincial medical director Dr Mary Muchekeza said chiefs are in charge of their jurisdictions and should therefore help in changing religious beliefs that result in people shunning health institutions.

“I believe there is a lot you can do to persuade or coerce such religious institutions to change their doctrines and such beliefs. Health institutions and health practitioners will never do anything to harm them. In fact, we will treat them so that they live healthier lives,” she said.

Dr Muchekeza said chiefs should make sure churches build toilets and have water before they start congregating in bushes.  Herald


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