Zimbabwean health officials have called for an overhaul of the country’s water and sanitation systems amid an outbreak of typhoid that has affected more than 1,500 people.
Henry Madzorera, Zimbabwe’s health minister, said the country is reporting up to 50 cases of typhoid a day.
“By the end of December 2011, more than 1,500 cases had been seen and treated,” Madzorera told a news conference in the capital, Harare, on Tuesday.
“An average of 30 to 50 cases are reported on a daily basis.”
Since the current outbreak started last October, 350 suspected cases and 16 confirmations were reported in the first three weeks of this year. No deaths have been reported up to now.
The bacterial disease is transmitted by contaminated food and water.
“The progressive deterioration of public health infrastructure have seen such rare diseases like typhoid becoming more commonly encountered within our population,” Madzorera said, in reference to water and sewerage pipes.
“The same poor water and sanitation conditions in Harare prevail in most of our urban areas and other parts of the country.”
Appeal for funds
Madzorera appealed to his government for funds to “refurbish the water, sanitation and sewerage infrastructure as a matter of urgency”, after years of neglect during the country’s recent economic crisis.
Last week, Tendai Biti, Zimbabwe’s foreign minister, announced the country would use $40m from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to refurbish water and sanitation facilities.
Some suburbs go for weeks without running water, as Zimbabwean municipalities battle to keep up services.
Harare city authorities say they cannot supply water to all the city’s residents.
Dams and water treatment facilities date back to before Zimbabwe’s 1980 independence and cannot sustain demands from the ever-increasing population in the capital.
Last October, more than 6,000 cases of diarrhoea were reported in the southern towns of Masvingo and Kadoma when at least seven children died.
Four years ago, more than 4,000 people died of cholera in an outbreak that affected nearly 100,000 people.