Cholera Outbreak in Harare Sparks Urgent Hygiene Calls Amid Water Scarcity

Amid a Cholera outbreak in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, urgent appeals for heightened hygienic measures are being made as the city grapples with a scarcity of clean water.

The focal point of the outbreak is Kuwadzana, a densely populated suburb, which has reported nearly half of the total cases, as indicated by Michael Vere, the head of epidemiology and disease control at the Harare City Council.

Residents like Patrick Mutisi express deep concern over the situation, emphasizing its preventability. “This week alone, several individuals we’ve interacted with have contracted cholera. It’s distressing and entirely avoidable,” Mutisi conveyed to reporters, citing the challenge of maintaining hygiene due to the lack of clean water in the area.

Harare has been wrestling with inadequate tap water supply, compelling residents to resort to unclean sources. “We’re only managing about a third of the required water supply for the city,” Vere explained to the press, highlighting the heavy contamination of the water obtained from Lake Chivero, the primary water source for Harare, necessitating extensive chemical treatment.

Vere also underscored the urgent need to revamp the city’s sewer system, which is struggling to accommodate the growing population. This situation has raised alarm bells, with Zimbabwe’s Minister of Health and Child Care, Douglas Mombeshora, confirming 12 fatalities, seven of which are from Kuwadzana, prompting a swift government response.

Acknowledging the nationwide movement of people from Harare, Mombeshora emphasized the government’s concerted efforts to contain the cholera outbreak. A $12 million budget has been approved for the national response to the crisis.

Residents appealed for government intervention, urging the provision of treated water in water bowsers due to the cholera outbreak’s impact on their ability to access clean water.

The scarcity of water in Kuwadzana has made it a luxury, according to Angeline Formoza, who highlights the link between water scarcity and the disease’s spread, especially in the inability to maintain sanitation.

Reflecting on the current outbreak, Georgina Musiyazviriyo recalled the haunting memories of the 2008 cholera epidemic that claimed over 4,000 lives. She stressed the community’s efforts to safeguard health by resorting to treated water and hygienic food practices.

Authorities are advising against unauthorized market visits or public gatherings to stem the outbreak’s spread.

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