HEALTH stakeholders are deeply agitated by the lukewarm approach being shown by both the government and local authorities in addressing the typhoid outbreak that has so far officially claimed nine lives in Gweru and Masvingo.
BY PHYLLIS MBANJE
The outbreak has, however, spread to other parts of the country, with new cases being reported in Kadoma.
“There is need for a serious public campaign for local authorities to deliver safe water. Our water sources are contaminated. What are we doing about it?” Fungisayi Dube from the Citizens Health Watch (CHW) asked.
She said the new local authorities had a mandate to step up and eradicate typhoid and to be open about the situation with the water system so that necessary measures can be taken.
“The water should be tested. We need a proper report on the quality of water,” Dube said.
Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) director Itai Rusike (pictured) said it was disturbing that the outbreak of water-borne diseases such as typhoid and cholera was no longer a new phenomenon in Zimbabwe.
“It is even more disturbing when the authorities take over a month to officially acknowledge the problem, and let alone try to address it,” Rusike said.
Masvingo has been facing serious water challenges, a situation which is conducive for the outbreak of waterborne diseases like typhoid.
Some parts of Kadoma have gone for more than 20 years without running water and in June, the local authority said they needed about $4 million to address the challenge.
“This care-free approach to human life should not and cannot be tolerated and it is a clear indication of the levels of disdain the government has on the ordinary poor Zimbabweans. The Community Working Group on Health is deeply depressed by the lackadaisical approach being shown by both,” Rusike said.
He said the Health ministry, despite being the custodian of the Public Health Act, continued to act as if the situation was normal even in the wake of nine deaths.
“As CWGH, we urge the Health ministry, Gweru City Council and other stakeholders to quickly find common ground and tackle this health crisis,” he said.
The stakeholders have, however, welcomed the signing into law of the revised Public Health Act by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to replace the old and outdated 1924 Public Health Act.
“Local authorities and companies in the country were taking advantage of the gaps and weaknesses of the colonial enacted Act to continue polluting water bodies because it is cheaper to pollute and pay than dispose raw sewer and industrial waste appropriately,” Rusike said.