Robin Muchetu, Senior Reporter
THE Bulawayo City Council has said the increase of cases of tuberculosis in Cowdray Park was a result of overcrowding owing to the low cost of accommodation in the suburb.
At least 149 cases of TB were recorded in the suburb last year compared to 130 cases in 2015, according to the city’s health department. Bulawayo council senior public relations officer Mrs Nesisa Mpofu said more people were being attracted to the suburb because of low rentals.
“A Targeted TB Screening programme was held in Cowdray Park recently. The increase in TB cases could be due to overcrowding in some of the areas where housing rentals are very low. Some people are looking after the landlords’ premises (caretaking) where they do not pay anything, as a result invite either friends or relatives to stay with them resulting in overcrowding,” she said.
Rentals in the suburb start from as low as $10 per room especially in areas not connected to water and electricity.
There have also been concerns that some of the houses are close to a waste dumping site called Ngozi Mine, increasing risk to outbreaks of diseases.
“All stands in Cowdray Park have been allocated. There is a piece of land that forms a buffer strip to separate Cowdray Park and Ngozi Mine. The buffer strip that exists between Cowdray Park and the landfill site is adequate to provide a barrier against any undesirable gases or fumes and the layouts were approved by the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing,” said Mrs Mpofu.
Ngozi Mine is home to people who scavenge at the dumpsite. Asked on what was being done to ensure that the residents at Ngozi Mine are accessing treatment and screening of TB, Mrs Mpofu said they were free to visit clinics to seek treatment.
“All municipal clinics including Cowdray Park Clinic have an Integrated HIV and TB Programme. Cowdray Park is one of the clinics that benefited from the construction of waiting sheds for patients suffering from tuberculosis. These were constructed in a bid to improve on infection control and patient comfort.
“The construction was carried out in partnership with the following organisations — Ministry of Health and Child Care, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) through funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). It also saw the partitioning and refurbishment of TB rooms at Cowdray Park among other clinics to improve ventilation. The improvements have ensured control of TB transmission among patients and staff,” added Mrs Mpofu.
Tree planting ambassador Mr Never Bonde said sewer pipe bursts were also contributing to health problems in Cowdray Park. “Cowdary Park is a growing area and some parts do not have water so brick makers are using sewage water to mould bricks which is unhealthy and dangerous because the sewage water is contaminated,” he said.