|Diarrhoea prevention tops health priorities list|
|Thursday, 10 January 2013 18:31|
Makhosi SibandaREDUCING common diarrhoea cases is listed top of the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare’s priorities for 2013, after the disease accounted for up to five deaths per week last year.
In a statement responding to questions from Chronicle yesterday, head of epidemiology and disease in the ministry, Dr Portia Manangazira said in 2012 an average 12 000 to 15 000 cases of common diarrhoea and up to five deaths were reported per week and this was extremely high.
“We aim for a 50 percent reduction in cases of the common diarrhoea through strengthened surveillance and correct case management by all health care workers,” said Dr Manangazira.
She said surveillance would ensure early reporting and swift action and curb the unprecedented spread that has been seen in previous outbreaks.
“Correct identification and management of cases will minimise spread and the development of complications,” said Dr Manangazira.
“A new vaccine to be given to children under five years will reduce rotavirus type of diarrhoea in this age group and contribute up to 40 percent reduction in the common diarrhoeas, especially during the winter months,” said Dr Manangazira.
She said they would also continue with the multi-media population awareness of the increased incidence of diarrhoea and convene media briefings, provide reports and updates and commemoration of the Global Hand-washing and World Sanitation Days, while advocating for improved safe water and sanitation coverage.
“The national emergency operations centre will be operationalised to provide resources and coordination during outbreaks and other public health emergencies.
“We still endeavour to halt and begin to reverse the spread of all major diseases and conditions. In disease prevention and control this requires the addressing of the key determinants of health such as restoration of adequate public health infrastructure for the urban areas, maintenance of personal hygiene, especially treating water at point of use and thorough hand washing at critical times,” said Dr Manangazira.
She said through a typhoid capacity assessment conducted mid-last year, the ministry was aware of the water and sanitation situation in the major urban and some rural areas in the country, and this has allowed them to tighten risk mapping of key areas for diarrhoea and enteric disease outbreaks.
“We will therefore use a pro-active approach and not run after outbreaks, as this has in the past cost a lot in terms of health worker burnout and loss of lives.
“In addition to Rotavirus vaccination for children, the Ministry of Health also plans to supply typhoid and cholera vaccines to targeted high risk areas, until such a time that safe water and sanitation coverage has reached or exceeded the recommended 80 percent,” said Dr Manangazira.