By Phyllis Mbanje
There are fears of a possible cholera outbreak in cyclone-hit areas, with reports that desperate people could be drinking water that possibly has decomposing corpses in it.
Most of the areas have no clean water and accessing the affected people is still difficult for relief workers.
Chipinge does not have treated water, as the pipe from the dam to the treatment plant was washed away by the floods, which have killed an estimated 300 people so far with hundreds more missing.
The deputy director epidemiology and disease control/communicable diseases in the Health ministry, Isaac Phiri, on Saturday said no cases of cholera had been reported, but that the availability of potable water was critical.
“The Health minister (Obadiah Moyo) is on record saying there are strategies that have been devised to ensure that the affected people have access to clean water,” he said.
Phiri said they had vaccines and medication on standby should the situation demand it.
Moyo has said there are adequate provisions for any disease outbreaks.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said cholera cases had been recorded in Beira, Mozambique, raising fears that this could spread to Zimbabwe.
“There’s stagnant water, it’s not draining, decomposing bodies, lack of good hygiene and sanitation,” Henrietta Fore, the head of the United Nations Children’s Fund, said.
Aid agencies in both Zimbabwe and Mozambique have raised red flags over likely outbreaks of waterborne diseases.
Zimbabwe has had several cholera outbreaks over the past few years.
The government is carrying out vaccination exercises, having completed the first one, the second one is expected to start soon.
So far, almost one million people have been vaccinated against the disease, which can kill within hours.
The second round of vaccination, which begins tomorrow and ends the following week, is targeting more than 1,1 million residents in cholera hotspots of Harare such as Mbare, Budiriro, Glen Norah, Glen View, Hopley, Mufakose and Waterfalls.