The Sunday News
The city is grappling with challenges of containing the coronavirus pandemic and dealing with an outbreak of the gastrointestinal disease at Bulawayo’s Luveve and Gwabalanda suburb.
Gastrointestinal disease has been identified as the cause for the diarrhoea outbreak, although its source is yet to be established. Our sister paper, Chronicle reported last week that 12 people including two senior citizens from Entembeni Old People’s home in Luveve had died since diarrhoea broke out in the suburb last month.
The source of the disease is however, suspected to be contaminated water due to aged water and sewer pipelines in the area, a challenge that however, is faced by the majority of the suburbs in the city. It is however, of concern that residents in the area have ignored a directive from the council to stop watering their gardens using water from contaminated wells in the area. Last week, the media had pictures of residents going about their business using water from the condemned water points, a cause of concern as they risked their lives once more.
We urge residents to take heed of advice from health professionals for the good of their safety. A lot of people have died in recent weeks in the suburb as a result of suspected contaminated water, and the city and country cannot afford to lose more lives. In fact, one death is one too many. What is worrying is that deaths have also been reported in other suburbs like Mpopoma and Montrose.
The first person to die of gastrointestinal disease was a 55-year-old man from Gwabalanda suburb who died on May 23 while the last death was of a 22-year-old man from Mpopoma suburb.
The oldest to succumb to the disease are two men housed at Entembeni Old People’s Home aged 87 and 96 years.
An eight-year-old from Montrose suburb was the youngest victim, the Chronicle reported.
As of last Monday, a total of 1 529 people had been treated; 1 356 at council clinics and Mpilo Central Hospital, and 173 attended to from home. Authorities said 132 patients have since recovered. The city’s health department visited 279 homes mostly in Luveve suburb in a door-to-door campaign to identify patients. The Government attributed the disease outbreak to Bulawayo’s 144-hour water shedding exercise and vandalism of sewerage pipes.
Water quality tests done by the Bulawayo City Council, National University of Science and Technology (Nust) and Cimas laboratories have been inconclusive on what caused the outbreak, authorities said. Further tests need to be done at Lancet laboratories, however, this has been derailed by lack of funds, a council report has stated.
The report was tabled before a Government technical committee looking into the issue of diarrhoea outbreak in the city last week. The report states that council had to validate death toll figures after official numbers differed from those given by the community members.
“The initial discrepancy between official death statistics obtained from health institutions and those obtained from the community prompted investigations on the source of the additional figures. Consultations conducted at Luveve Police Station revealed that there were three community deaths which were attended by the police in the suburb,” reads the report.
BCC reported that the number of patients seeking treatment increased after council started offering free treatment.
“It was also observed that the affected cases were not administering the homemade sugar and salt solution as they did not have sugar or salt at times. Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) at clinics was distributed to those affected. There was a report of a family that mistakenly consumed rat poison that looked like sugar. Further to that there were ad-hoc reports of consumption of sugar cane which had been irrigated with water from undesignated sources,” read the report.