More than 100 people have been treated for suspected typhoid in a high-density suburb of Harare, authorities said on Wednesday, with residents blaming the outbreak on raw sewage in the neighbourhood and the government’s failure to contain it.
“We have attended to more than 100 cases in Mbare high density suburb and of these cases, 17 cases have been confirmed as typhoid,” said Harare City Council health director Prosper Chonzi.
Some residents like Vongai Mbedzi, 33, placed the blame squarely on broken sewer pipes in the populous, low-income suburb.
“Garbage is all over the place and refuse collection is not being prioritized by the city fathers; so we have a situation where the council goes for weeks without collecting refuse,” Mbedzi said.
Another resident Kilian Bukutu, 47, also told dpa that raw sewage was contributing to the typhoid outbreak.
“Raw sewage … is flowing in most of the blocks of flats and streets,” said Bukutu.
Harare City Council spokesperson Michael Chideme said there are simply not enough refuse collection trucks available.
Last year two people in Harare died of typhoid, while in 2008, 4,282 people died during a cholera outbreak.
The fresh typhoid outbreak comes at a time when Zimbabwe’s doctors and nurses are threatening to strike over poor salaries and working conditions.
Last week Zimbabwe’s long-time leader President Robert Mugabe, whom many critics blame for the deterioration of the country’s health services, had his brief appointment as a World Health Organization Goodwill Ambassador rescinded after an international outcry.