Bulawayo City Council which has recorded 13 deaths from typhoid, took too long to confirm that the Luveve suburb deaths were as a result of typhoid and dysentery outbreak. Reaction from Government and other health partners could have been completely different had the local authority immediately confirmed the outbreak of typhoid and dysentery.
The residents had for long been told that it was just diarrhoea whose source was yet to be confirmed. The Council waited for Government to confirm that the diarrhoea was indeed typhoid and dysentery outbreak.
The concerned residents even attempted to challenge council in court to force it to release laboratory tests results of samples of tap water and other vital information to do with the diarrhoea outbreak.
Some of the deaths could have been averted had residents been informed immediately and taken preventive measures such as boiling drinking water and using other water treatment methods.
In other cities where there have been similar outbreaks, Government reacted swiftly by setting up temporary treatment centres and distributing tablets to treat water while at the same time advising residents to boil drinking water.
In Gweru when there was a similar outbreak in August 2018, Government immediately banned the use of water from contaminated boreholes, set up treatment camps and distributed water treatment chemicals to residents in affected areas.
Eight people died while more than 1 500 typhoid cases were recorded in Gweru but the outbreak was quickly contained because of the massive campaigns to educate residents which has not been the case in Bulawayo.
We want to acknowledge the door to door campaign by the City Health Department but we feel more could have been done had council been open on the issue.
Government revealed at the weekend that human waste was found in water that was supplied to Luveve residents and council is now saying there might have been sewage pipe bursts in the suburb which could have leaked into water pipes.
“There was contamination where it was confirmed that some of the water had faeces which was beyond the standards that are allowed by the Standards Association of Zimbabwe,” said the Minister of Local Government and Publics Works Cde July Moyo.
We want at this juncture to call on the council and Government to immediately set up treatment centres to screen residents not only in Luveve but all affected suburbs as the outbreak has spread to other suburbs.