Bulawayo council bans school feeding programme

Health Reporters
Bulawayo City Council has temporarily banned the school feeding programme amid reports that the number of suspected cholera cases in the city has risen to 21.

Speaking during a Zimbabwe Medical Association (Zima) meeting in Bulawayo yesterday, BCC deputy director of health services, Dr Khulamuzi Nyathi, said 19 of the patients have tested negative and have been discharged. “As of 2PM today we only had two suspected cases at Thorngrove Hospital. We have, however, taken drastic measures to eliminate the spread of the disease and we have temporarily suspended school feeding programmes in Bulawayo,” said Dr Nyathi.

He discouraged members of the public from attending public gatherings, adding that council had urged the United College of Education in Bulawayo to postpone its graduation ceremony. Cholera has so far claimed 32 lives in Harare where it broke out on September 1.

Dr Purgie Chimberengwa who heads Zima southern region said 80 percent of cholera cases have not been detected so far.

“We believe that due to the poor water and sanitation facilities in the country, we have more than 10 000 cases in reality. As long as water and sanitation issues are not addressed urgently we will continue to have an increase even in deaths as some of the cases are yet to manifest,” said Dr Chimberengwa.

He said Government should boost laboratories so that there is efficiency in determining if one has cholera or not.

“We have also experienced a drug resistance trend in some patients and we believe it is because most practitioners are quick to prescribe antibiotics to patients without further examination of their conditions normally. We urge all medical practitioners to desist from over prescription of antibiotics generally so that people do not become resistant to medication for diseases like cholera which is currently a nationwide disaster,” he said.

Bulawayo has roped in more laboratory scientists to beef up the task force to fight the cholera epidemic.

The Zimbabwe Association of Medical Laboratory and Clinical Scientists (ZAMLCS) met with council and offered free services in the fight against cholera.

Dr Nyathi said four laboratory scientists had already volunteered to work with council while others were still expected to come forward. “We have been approached and agreed with an association of laboratory scientists who are going to assist or boost the manpower and the capacity of the lab to be able to test for this cholera during this outbreak,” said Dr Nyathi.

“It is an association of laboratory scientists, who were represented by at least four members and these are people who stay in Bulawayo and work at various medical laboratories around the city. Some work at Mpilo Central Hospital, Mater Dei Hospital while some are from Population Services International,” he said.

Matabeleland North provincial medical director Dr Alfred Muchara said lab results have dismissed cholera fears in the province.

“We have received results from Hwange, Umguza and Tsholotsho and they show that we have no cholera in the province,” said Dr Muchara.

Meanwhile, Harare City Council has named the officials who allegedly tried to swindle donors through inflating prices of goods and services for the combating of cholera.

The named and shamed municipality officers are Philimon Rwafa, a procurement and stores officer, Smart Mhuka a buyer, Tawanda Marange a Cadex clerk, and Tafadzwa Reza also a buyer.

All the officials were said to be from the procurement division in the Harare Water works department.

Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Obadiah Moyo condemned the actions of the suspended officers and described them as ungodly and cruel. He said the Ministry had set up surveillance teams to monitor the country’s borders in an attempt to curb the spread of the outbreak to neighbouring countries.

“We have set up teams to monitor activities in our border towns and at border posts that will encourage hygienic conduct among travellers. We are trying by all means to contain this situation but it is also up to individuals to ensure that we contain this outbreak,” he said.

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