EDITORIAL COMMENT: Follow all precautions to curb cholera spread

Dr David Parirenyatwa

Dr David Parirenyatwa

The Ministry of Health and Child Care has urged people to take measures to prevent cholera which has so far killed four people in Chegutu town. The Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr David Parirenyatwa, said members of the public should notify health officials whenever there are public gatherings including funerals.  

He also said people should avoid handshakes but instead greet each other using fists or elbows. Dr Parirenyatwa said health officials are supposed to monitor public gatherings, cooking and burial procedures as part of measures to contain the disease.

More than 4 000 people died of cholera in 2008 and the outbreak affected many parts of the country. There are fears that we could witness a similar disaster unless measures are put in place to contain the Chegutu outbreak.

People should therefore take heed of the Ministry’s call to avoid unnecessary gatherings. Where we cannot avoid gatherings like at funerals, it is important for people to take measures to avoid the spread of this deadly disease.

The Ministry of Health officials should be notified so that they give on the spot guidance at such gatherings. Minister Parirenyatwa said people should desist from eating foods cooked or prepared under unhygienic conditions.

There is rampant vending in undesignated places including selling of meat and fruits on pavements in most cities and towns. Last week, the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing gave illegal vendors 48 hours to vacate the streets but many are yet to comply with the directive.

It is therefore incumbent upon councils to ensure illegal vendors are removed from the streets. Containing cholera will be difficult as long as these people who sell food including meat and fruits on the streets are allowed to operate.

There are many backyard restaurants where individuals are cooking and selling food and these too are putting the lives of residents at risk.  The country is also at risk of “importing” cholera from Lusaka, Zambia, where the disease has so far killed more than 70 people.

Dr Parirenyatwa said Government had put in place mechanisms to screen travellers as part of measures to prevent importing cholera. He said the Ministry had also set up temporary holding camps at the borders to attend to those that contract the disease.

We want to commend Government for quickly reacting to contain cholera but measures put in place by Government can only be effective if complemented by communities through maintaining high standards of hygiene. Maintaining high standards of hygiene must start at family level.

The gatherings, as already alluded to, should be avoided and where they cannot be avoided measures should be taken to maintain high standards of hygiene. Government should avail adequate resources to enable the Ministry of Health to promptly react to distress calls.

It is encouraging to learn that donors are already assisting in fighting cholera. We should not allow what happened in 2008 when so many lives were lost to cholera which had spread to almost all corners of the country. We want to once again implore local authorities to complement Government efforts to fight cholera by removing illegal vendors operating at undesignated places. Individuals on their part should avoid buying fish, meat and other foodstuffs sold on the streets as doing so puts their lives at risk.

 

Article Source: The Chronicle

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