The people of Zimbabwe have yet another crisis to face, this time an outbreak of the disease typhoid in the country's capital, Harare. 600 people have been affected so far with at least 90 admitted to hospital.
The government owned newspaper 'The Herald' said on Jan 24 that those admitted to hospital had been taken to the Beatrice Infectious Diseases Hospital. The Health Director for the city of Harare confirmed that the outbreak is typhoid and that it has been caused by people eating contaminated food sold by street vendors. Dr Prosper Chonzi said:
"We took samples of raw, cooked meat and fish from a shopping centre in Kuwadzana.
All the samples had salmonella typhi. One of the confirmed cases is a person who works in a city hotel. If people eat food handled by the person, they risk contracting typhoid"
So far, no deaths have been confirmed but it is feared that many more people could be affected by the illness. Dr Chonzi insisted that the city's water and sanitation levels were 'satisfactory' but then went on to suggest that people boil their drinking water and treat it with tablets available free from local health clinics.
The Standard newspaper, however has an opinion piece published on Jan 22 which says that the "Environmental Management Agency ...findings against the Harare City Council can be a case study of how not to manage toxic waste. They reveal, in considerable detail, how the city council is wantonly releasing raw sewage into the environment from its numerous pump stations thereby contaminating water bodies that supply the city with drinking water."
The article points out that not only is typhoid a problem but also other water borne illnesses such as cholera and dysentery are on the increase amongst Harare citizens and elsewhere in the country.
Zimbabwe has an ongoing problem with sanitation and health. Times Live reports that some towns and suburbs can go for weeks with no running water. Four years ago, more than four thousand people died in a cholera outbreak that affected over 100.000 Zimbabwean citizens.