Communal toilets fuel spread of cholera in Hwange A typical communal toilet

Leonard Ncube, [email protected]

LACK of clean running water and use of communal toilets in Hwange are the key drivers of cholera in the coal mining town where more than 30 cases and two deaths have been recorded.

Cumulative cases in Matabeleland North have now risen to 37.

Last Friday, Matabeleland North had 11 cases, five from Hwange and six from Binga and Umguza districts.

Hwange urban has recorded 16 new suspected cases taking the cumulative provincial tally to 37 and two suspected deaths.

Health authorities are concerned about the increasing cases of diarrhoea in Hwange District including the resort city of Victoria Falls.

There are no cholera cases in Victoria Falls as all the suspected and confirmed cases are in Hwange town where residents share communal toilets, which have no running water.

 They use buckets to flush the toilets.

The Ministry of Health and Child Care has called for improvement of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (Wash) facilities to help prevent the spread of the disease.

“The cases are in Hwange and the two deaths presented symptoms. Last week a provincial team visited Hwange to confirm the outbreak and there is a need to intensify Wash programmes, especially in areas like Number 2 and Number 3. The main driver so far is use of communal toilets, which have no water,” Matabeleland North provincial epidemiological and disease control officer, Dr Thabani Moyo, said. 

He said cases were going up but cholera could be contained if people do the right thing which is to maintain high hygiene standards.

Dr Moyo said health officials had intensified awareness campaigns in affected areas.

The province has set up two cholera treatment centres at Mkhosana Clinic in Victoria Falls and Hwange Colliery Hospital in Hwange where all in-care cases are being managed.

Dr Moyo said all the seven districts had been ordered to set up cholera treatment centres although some districts were yet to record cholera cases.

He said resources are being mobilised for the province to start case management training.

Dr Moyo implored supporting departments to be on the ground enforcing some measures to prevent spread of the disease and further deaths. In Hwange, the local authority at the Colliery Concession area has removed all street vendors especially those who had been selling foodstuffs and clothes as a control measure.

In Victoria Falls, residents last week urged Government to stop Zambian hawkers from freely trading on the streets but no action has been taken.

Hawkers from Livingstone city continue to freely sell on the streets of Victoria Falls thereby putting residents at risk of contracting cholera.

Zambia is battling its worst cholera outbreak. Hwange District Medical Officer Dr Fungayi Musinami said she was concerned about the increasing cases of diarrhoea and urged members of the public to maintain high hygiene standards.

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