Zimbabwe battles typhoid outbreak

Zimbabwe battles typhoid outbreak

Zimbabwe is scrambling to contain an outbreak of typhoid following at least nine deaths and more than 2,000 suspected cases of the bacterial infection nationwide last year.

A ministerial taskforce has been set up by the government to spearhead efforts to contain the outbreak.

Citizens blame erratic water supplies and poor sanitation for the spread of the water-borne disease.

The cases are mostly from densely populated areas in the capital Harare, which has been reeling under an acute shortage of piped water, and adding to the residents’ woes, rubbish is not being collected for days in the city.

Authorities announced that they would make clean water more accessible to citizens, and in the meantime, ban food vendors in Harare which officials say are worsening the outbreak.

“There is no doubt that we will not win the war against typhoid if certain conditions persist in the country, particularly the issues of safe water availability, the issues of waste disposal — those are critical to us — sewage, the issue of littering, the issue of hawkers and vendors in the streets, illegal and legal,” said David Parirenyatwa, Minister of Health and Child Care, at a press briefing on Friday.

“It was agreed to prohibit and stop the vending of food — whether it is processed or unprocessed — in undesignated areas,” he added.

Saviour Kasukuwere, a local government minister, said the capital must do more to bring the highly contagious disease under control.

“The city of Harare itself also needs a very strong environment division. I think this has been absent and the municipal police must also do their work. I think those two, if we can have the right skills in those sectors, we should have order in Harare,” he said.

A treatment center has been set up in Harare to deal with the rising number of patients.

According to the health ministry, the country needs 250,000 U.S. dollars to remove waste and sanitize the country’s sewer system.

Typhoid bacteria is spread when food or water containing contaminated fecal matter is consumed. It kills more than 200,000 people worldwide each year, according to the World Health Organization.