Midlands Bureau Chief
THE Ministry of Health and Child Welfare is on high alert on the possible spread of typhoid to other towns and cities since all provinces are at risk of a typhoid outbreak owing to poor water sanitation, a Cabinet minister has said.
In an interview on Wednesday soon after the commissioning ceremony of a Red Cross Warehouse in Gweru, Health and Child Welfare Minister Dr Henry Madzorera said his ministry urgently needed between $500 000 and $600 000 for raising awareness and help curb the spread of the waterborne disease.
The minister cited Harare as among the high risk typhoid areas and Magwegwe in Bulawayo as a low risk area.
He said between 25 and 30 areas in the country needed accelerated awareness.
“There is no province that is free from the typhoid risk. If you look at Kadoma’s Rimuka area, it’s a potential risk while Kwekwe is better in terms of hygiene.
“We have cities like Harare that are high risk areas while some areas like Magwegwe in Bulawayo are at low risk. We are expecting some money from the Ministry of Finance to help us increase awareness.
“We need between $500 000 and $600 000 just for the awareness programme. That will be enough for the awareness exercise.
“The response to typhoid has, however, been good in as far as the management of the disease is concerned. We will continue to raise awareness among Zimbabweans,” said Dr Madzorera.
The minister said the ministry was hamstrung in its efforts to curb the spread of the disease owing to its limited responsibilities and operational parameters.
“For example, we cannot engage engineers to attend to blocked sewer problems, neither do we move garbage.
“It is not even the ministry’s responsibility to supply water to residents. This is why we can only ask money from Treasury for creating awareness. We will tell people what needs to be done.
“We encourage them to be hygienic, they should wash their hands at places like funerals or after greeting people before handling food.
“They should do the same after visiting the toilet. Meals should be taken while hot and people should boil their drinking water first or use aqua tabs,” he said.
Minister Madzorera said his ministry was also still concerned with the low rate of women who give birth outside clinics and hospitals.
He said the number of women giving birth at health institutions was below 60 percent.
“It is not a pleasing scenario. Our hope is to have more women give birth in clinics or hospitals. The good thing is the health transition fund has matured and it has $200 million. We will soon be addressing the situation," said Dr Madzorera.
The minister also spoke about drug trafficking and smuggling in Zimbabwe.
He said the police was, however, handling the matter well as it was always on high alert.
“This is one section of the police that has proved to be effective and efficient. They are there always when needed, arresting culprits. I would also want to urge members of the public to desist from buying the smuggled drugs.
“What could be labelled a paracetamol could be something else inside. It is people who create the market for these smuggled drugs so if we stop buying from the streets, the drug traffickers would go out of business,” said Dr Madzorera.
Meanwhile, Dr Madzorera commissioned a $217 000 relief material warehouse for disaster management in Gweru.
The warehouse was built by the Norwegian Red Cross and was handed over to the Zimbabwean Red Cross by the Norwegian Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mrs Ingerbjorg Stofring.
Dr Madzorera said the warehouse would help the Zimbabwe Red Cross' disaster preparedness programmes.
The idea to set up a warehouse in Gweru was mooted after challenges that arose during experiences when dealing with disasters like the Muzarabini and Manicaland floods, the 2008 cholera outbreak and the existing typhoid outbreak in Harare and some parts of Zimbabwe.
The warehouse would benefit the whole country in storing food and non-food material, clothes and some essential drugs that are used to alleviate the suffering of HIV and Aids patients.