Experts give COVID-19 warning

Credit: Newsday By Vanessa Gonye and Lorraine Muromo | May. 4, 2023

HEALTH experts have urged COVID-19 caution ahead of schools opening next week and the approaching winter.

Speaking to NewsDay on Tuesday, chief coordinator of the COVID-19 taskforce in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Agnes Mahomva said COVID-19 was the new normal.



“We really urge citizens to take precautions seriously so as to ensure the country does not get into a crisis again,” Mahomva said.

“As we approach winter there is need to be extra careful and to religiously follow all preventive measures.”

Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights secretary Norman Matara expressed hope that the situation this year would be similar to last year’s where there were not many casualties.



“However, there is always need for caution and continuous need for practising good hygiene as this not only protects us from COVID-19 but also protects us from other viral respiratory infections and other diarrhoeal conditions like typhoid and cholera,” he said.

Community Working Group on Health executive director Itai Rusike said there was need to limit the further spread of COVID-19 in schools by having all eligible students vaccinated.

“The standard operating procedures related to the reopening of schools should be supported with adequate resources for the safe operation of schools in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic and cholera outbreak,” Rusike said.

“We hope that the government is taking all the essential practical measures for the protection, safety, health and well-being of children, staff and the wider school communities as the country is facing the double blow pandemic considering the rise of cholera cases amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.”



During Tuesday’s post-Cabinet media briefing, government said cumulative COVID-19 cases as at April 29, 2023 stood at 264 683, with 258 914 recoveries and 5 686 deaths. There were 83 active cases, and no deaths were recorded during the week under review. There were 15 new hospital admissions, compared to the 14 recorded the previous week, with five being in intensive care.

Health experts fret over cholera resurgence

Credits: Newsday By Vanessa Gonye | Apr. 10, 2023

HEALTH experts have expressed concern over the resurgence in cholera cases, which they blame on poor sanitation and a lack of long-term planning for water supplies in urban areas.

Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) executive director Itai Rusike said cholera will continue to wreak havoc until there is a long-term plan on water sanitation and hygiene intervention.

“Prolonged water cuts in most urban areas are leading to use of unsafe alternatives such as unprotected shallow wells and faecal matter-contaminated boreholes. Local government earmarks revenue for waste collection, this should not be reallocated to other spending.  Residents should be brought into monitoring waste dumping. Residents and businesses can provide initial support with clean-up campaigns but routine waste collection, water treatment services and more reliable provisioning need to be improved as a public health priority,” Rusike said.

“The mainstay of prevention of cholera is the provision of safe water, adequate sanitation, good personal hygiene, case management, surveillance and community mobilisation. Cholera vaccination may be used to complement primary measures,” he said.

Cholera, a diarrheal infectious disease continues to cause high morbidity and mortality in Zimbabwe.

Without treatment, death can occur within hours.

Health policy specialist Tinashe Mundawarara said more investment is needed to deal with cholera.

“Investments are needed to detect, prevent, control and monitor cholera.  This is further compounded by the fact that cholera is now a protracted epidemic in this country. I am not sure if government has a cost-effective strategy for border screening given that it is resource intensive,” he said.

The country is currently experiencing a new wave of cholera infections, which emanated from Chegutu and has spread across the country, bringing to 17 new cholera hotspots.

Previously, there were only four hotspots.

The new cholera hotspots are Buhera, Chegutu, Chikomba, Chimanimani, Chipinge, Chitungwiza, Chiredzi, Harare, Gokwe North, Marondera, Mazowe, Shamva, Mutare, Murehwa, Mwenezi, Seke and Wedza.

Health expert Josephat Chiripanyanga said: “We encourage people to follow guidelines for cholera prevention so as to ensure that we limit the occurrence of cholera as much as possible. There is a need to practise proper waste (human included) disposal especially in the rural areas to reduce or prevent it from spreading. We all know the adverse effects of cholera and the country has had two serious outbreaks with devastating outcomes.  It will be equally bad if we lag behind on prevention.”

As of Thursday last week, there were a cumulative 382 suspected cholera cases, two laboratory-confirmed deaths, five suspected cholera deaths and 71 laboratory-confirmed cases reported.

Health experts have warned that if no action is taken, the cholera outbreak could lead to more fatalities.



CONCERN OVER HYPERTENSION . . . prevalence estimated at about 30 percent of population

Credits: H-metro by Tanaka Mahanya 07 April, 2023

ZIMBABWE is experiencing a rise in non-communicable diseases with hypertension now top of the list.

The country joins the rest of the world in commemorating World Health Day.

It will be held under the theme ‘‘Health for All’’.

The theme resonates well with the growing global call for Universal Health Coverage (UHC), which seeks to ensure that people have access to the healthcare they need, without suffering financial hardships.

The Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) has called on the Government to ensure that health services are available, accessible and affordable to every citizen of Zimbabwe.

In a statement, CWGH executive director, Itai Rusike, said the country was experiencing a rise in non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

“Rapid, unplanned, unregulated urbanisation and changes in lifestyles as people migrate from rural to urban areas are causing an increase in the risk factors that cause NCDs and conditions such as injuries, disabilities and substance abuse.

“The prevalence of hypertension is estimated at about 30 percent of the total population, which is higher than HIV, tuberculosis and diabetes.

“Addressing the burden of non-communicable diseases constitutes an integral part of achieving good health and well-being.”

Rusike said targets had been set to reduce premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment by one-third by 2030.

“The country also suffers a high burden of cancer with the cervical cancer burden being within the top five in the world. “Treatment costs for all cancers remain very high, inconsistent and unaffordable for most people.”

Cholera: Experts call for access to clean water

Credits: Newsday By Lorraine Muromo and Vanessa Gonye | Mar. 30, 2023

health experts have urged government to ensure citizens have access to clean potable water to stop the spread of waterborne diseases such as cholera.

The country has witnessed a number of cholera cases with suspected cases in 10 provinces numbering 267, while 209 recoveries and two deaths were recorded. Cabinet on Tuesday approved a budget of US$24 168 353 for cholera preparedness and response plan.

Community Working Group on Health executive director Itai Rusike said to effectively deal with cholera, government should deal with fundamental public health issues like access to water.

“The current cholera outbreak is occurring in the context of frequent water and power cuts, and a breakdown of rubbish collection. Advice to boil water is difficult to follow during water and power cuts. The situation on the ground indicates that while water and sanitation infrastructure exists, these are old and malfunctioning and tariff structures are needed to protect poor households’ access,” Rusike said.

He said unsafe environments continued to be a health threat, particularly for poor households and should be more focused on high-density suburbs and rural areas, where significant gaps remain in terms of access to safe water and sanitation.

Medical and Dental Private Practitioners Association of Zimbabwe president Johannes Marisa said while government’s US$24 million pledge towards fighting cholera was welcome, water and sanitation issues should be prioritised.

“It’s needless to fight symptoms when the predisposing factors are dominant, water and sanitation should be robust and up to standard if we are going to contain cholera. Monitoring and surveillance is also important, as well as education on cholera and its symptoms.”