By Nhau Mangirazi
Suspected typhoid cases hit the farming town of Karoi in Mashonaland West province towards the end of last year during which several residents with symptoms of the bacterial infection were hospitalised.
Residents from Ward 4 within North Infill area in Chikangwe high-density suburb, where spilling raw sewage is normal, was the worst affected then.
The infected residents included women, men and young children.
North Infill is one of the areas, where Karoi town council reportedly allocated residential stands in wetlands and near sewage pounds.
But council chairperson Abel Matsika denied any wrongdoing by the local authority.
He said: “Council has never allocated land in inappropriate places as we are guided by the department of physical planning.”
But residents expressed outrage over poor planning by the council.
“We are suffering here due to poor planning by both local council and Zimbabwe National Water Authority, (ZINWA), ” said one resident, Dickson Tsambare.
This saw several residents in Ward 4 suffering from diarrhoea, headaches and fever last year.
Resident, Tsitsi Madombi’s 13-year-old son was bedridden for three days last year.
Madombi narrated: “My son’s temperature was 41 degrees Celsius and the nurses at Karoi district hospital treated him for malaria but nothing changed. It was unbearable for us. He was due to write Grade Seven exams so we had to look for urgent medical assistance.”
The family consulted a private medical doctor at his rooms where he was diagnosed with typhoid infection.
Madombi added: “He was put on a drip for two days and has since recovered.”
Another resident, Varaidzo Mupanga said:
“Our water is dirty and it is the cause of our illness. We are suffering here. This is a perennial water problem around here.
“Last year (2019) we lost one person but no remedial action was taken by authorities,” she added.
Hurungwe District Medical Officer (DMO), Dr Franckson Masiye, confirmed then that the district referral hospital and local Chikangwe clinic had registered “several cases of diarrhea coming from North Infill” area in late November.
“Preliminary investigations point to a borehole near a sewer. We have taken water samples for laboratory tests. We can only make a formal confirmation after the results come back to us.
“Investigations are ongoing.”
ZINWA resident engineer Commence Chivanga, said:
“I can confirm that there is a borehole where people, children for that matter are fetching water from and it is contaminated.
“We have dismantled the borehole. A red flag was raised and we are working to rectify the situation.”
He said ‘thorough investigations’ would be conducted to get to the bottom of the matter.
Chivanga explained that sewer and water lines do not mix.
At the time of the writing of this story, he said:
“We will be conducting health education in the suburbs since waterborne diseases may increase with the beginning of the rain season. We have to spread awareness to our communities.”