Doctors concerned over typhoid

13 January 2017

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The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights has expressed concern over the Government and Harare City council’s failure to stem the typhoid outbreak.

The doctors said poor service delivery, failure to prioritize safe, clean water and environment were the major determinants of waterborne disease adding that the outbreak could escalate.

“There is still uncollected garbage around the city and given that we are in the rain season, this could fuel more cases.

“While acknowledging the efforts by the authorities to date in responding to the outbreak we remain unsatisfied with level of intervention which, though important at curative stage fail to acknowledge and introspect into the actual causes of the outbreak.

“We are concerned by the Government and City of Harare’s failure to stop the continued spread of typhoid and failure to prioritize safe, clean water and environment as key tenets of a strong primary healthcare system,” said the director, Calvin Kobiri in a statement.

The doctors further argued that Harare continued to reel under conditions suitable for the growth and spread of waterborne disease such as typhoid, which has already claimed two lives.

“With 2 deaths and 132 cases reported to date the situation remains dire and in need of a responsive coordinated multi-sectoral approach to attend to both the current and long terms demands of the situation.”

They believe that the emergency interventions from the Government and Harare City Council should be backed by sustainable solutions related to the improvement of water, sanitation and hygiene in the city.

“Burst sewerages, unsafe water and poor sanitation are an affront to the enjoyment of the right to health by residents. ZADHR further contends that the typhoid outbreak must allow residents to take stock of their local authorities and also the negligence of supervision by central government.

“In so doing, call upon the residents and rate payers to continue being engaged and demand responsiveness, transparency and accountability from the council. This action must include but not limited to class actions.

“In the interest of good community and personal health ZADHR encourages residents to exercise good personal hygiene through hand washing and avoid open air and unsanctioned food outlets.

“By and large we call upon members of the medical profession to get engaged and assist both in the response to the outbreak and in the consummation of sustainable solutions to the dire public health situation in the city,” added.

Meanwhile pressure continues to mount on the local authority with human rights defenders calling for legal action to be taken against it following the typhoid deaths.

The doctors association and a health lobby group believe the council should be held accountable for the deaths.