Sunday 14 January 2024


battling cholera inChiredzi

Motley scenes have characterised the story of villagers in the communal lands of Chiweshe, from the smell of death, panic to mixed episodes of hope, strength and ultimate victory over the life-threatening water-borne disease, cholera.

Located some 100km away, north of Harare in the province of Mashonaland Central is Dambo village which headlined news last week after it became an epicentre of the infectious bacteria following the outbreak of cholera after villagers attended a confirmed cholera death that occurred in the area.

Chiweshe which is famed for its farming prowess, rich soils and favourable agriculture climatic conditions became the victim of the cholera epidemic which has so far spread in many parts of the province with Tsungubvi in Glendale town having been designated the hotspot.

Socialised by cultural codes and traditional values of Ubuntuism, it is the norm for villagers that each time one of theirs dies, they all gather to mourn with the bereaved friends and family of the deceased, for them it is unheard of that people cannot be allowed to gather for a funeral.

This was the case in Dambo village where mourners who attended the funeral of village head Sabhuku Kodzwa, born Gift Nyariri, could not believe that he had succumbed to cholera and continued the funeral without heeding guideline protocols invoked by health workers for cholera related deaths.

Narrating the ordeal on how the outbreak begun, ward 13 councillor Cde Edward Mutyavaviri who escaped death by a whisker following a two-day fight with cholera confirmed the shocking attack that left the people of Dambo and Kanyemba hospitalised and one dead.

“When the now late Sabhuku Kodzwa fell ill, he was brought here at Dambo clinic where he only revealed that he had fallen while at home, he was then treated and sent back home. By then, no one had suspected that it could be cholera until he succumbed few days later after complaining of diarrhea and headaches. Tests conducted later revealed that he had succumbed to cholera, making it the first communal confirmed cholera death.

“Whilst at the funeral, local health workers made efforts to alert mourners that the deceased had succumbed to cholera and there was a real risk of contracting the bacteria, however many people could not believe that such a bacteria associated with urban set-ups could visit our remote areas, hence the warnings fell on deaf ears until a few days later when villagers started complaining of headaches, running stomach. Thereafter tests were conducted and confirmed that cholera had struck us. I was also among the confirmed cases as I fought to recovery for days,” explained Clr Mutyavaviri.

Following the funeral many cases were recorded within 48 hours making Dambo clinic the second critical epicentre in the province after Tsungubvi in Glendale town.

Amidst panic, horror and death, the local leadership in unity with the health workers displayed a great commitment by answering the call of duty through swift interventions that set the stage for a fight against the epidemic, stopping it from spreading to many parts of the communal areas.

The state of preparedness by the Ministry of Health and Child Care in Mazowe District was a masterstroke in mitigating the threat posed by this disaster to about 26 villages in the ward area.

“Following positive results of cholera on tested patients, we had 19 people admitted on the first day and that is when we established that more cases from the funeral were coming, so we quickly declared Damba a cholera camp and called in assistance to support the human resources capacity at this place,” said district medical officer Dr Kudzai Chisenwa.

“At the peak we recorded 20 cases overnight, the situation was bad as we lost another admitted patient, however our health personnel have been on the ground disinfecting homes and vehicles as well as conducting awareness campaigns and since Friday we are witnessing a commendable recovery as well as a decrease in the number of patients being admitted.”

Dr Chisenwa further revealed that as of Sunday, Dambo had 77 cumulative cases with 66 having been treated and discharged, adding that despite being out of the woods, the community must remain alert.

A stakeholder meeting that was held last week Thursday revealed that interventions by various departments had contributed to the stabilising of the cases at Dambo as more pillars were put in places by the Ministry of Health and Child Care to contain the spread of diseases.

Among major contributing factors was the capacitation of the camp by critical requisites that were provided among them, including food, blankets, buckets, medicines and a range of paraphernalia that saw health workers on the line of duty efficiently dealing with confirmed cases.

“From day one we have been running around to provide all the needed items for both the health staffers and the admitted patients, at the same time conscientising the community, it was imperative for us as local leaders to intervene timeously, guided by our medical personnel,” weighed in Mazowe Central member of Parliament Cde Maxmore Njanji.

“Working hand in hand with the traditional leader of this area, Chief Negomo, we managed to secure all the items that were needed for this camp to run efficiently and we are now witnessing a drop in the number of cases, we also visited Rosa Clinic where the situation is stable with a few walk in cases and about three patients recovering there,”

Among highlighted pending concerns for the community include the issue of water sanitation and ablution facilities for the schools.

“we established that several boreholes in the area need to be repaired and more should be drilled in line with the health protocols of WASH, so all mechanisms are in place to further tie these loose ends as soon as possible,” added Cde Njanji.

Further interventions have been realised after a Taiwan organisation Tzu Chi Zimbabwe donated 50 blankets and 500kgs of rice at the cholera camp, including facilitating the repairing of boreholes that are not working in the area.

Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution retired Captain Christopher Magomo said Tzu Chi has been contributing towards the fight against cholera in the province.

“we had the organisation intervening at Tsungubvi cholera camp when we had an outbreak, we got tonnes of rice from these Taiwan friends of us.

“Therefore, all those hands coming in are contributing towards our success in the fight against this infectious bacterium which is threatening our communities, so far Tsungubvi and Dambo have been the most critical with the rest of the province stable,” said Minister Magomo.Herald


Post a Comment