MORE than 1 300 Bulawayo residents have been treated for diarrhoea since July this year with reports that cases are still on the rise owing to erratic water supplies.
The city recorded its first diarrhoea outbreak in July which claimed 13 lives in Luveve suburb.
The first case in the latest outbreak was reported on September 26 and has been linked to the prevailing water crisis.
Residents have for the past months been subjected to an acute water shortage which has seen the Bulawayo City Council providing water to only a few suburbs per day.
The latest diarrhoea outbreak follows Auditor-General Mrs Mildred Chiri’s report tabled before Parliament recently that listed Bulawayo among six local authorities at risk of outbreak of water-borne diseases that could lead to deaths due to failure to manage sewer reticulation systems.
According to council minutes, 488 cases of diarrhoea were recorded during the month of July. In August the cases went down to 338 and then shot up to 472 in September.
“Diarrhoea cases were on the increase in the month of September exceeding the action threshold for some clinics in Emakhandeni District. Since July about 1 300 cases have been recorded in the city and this is a major public health concern.”
The rise in diarrhoea cases has created the urgent need for health promotion messages, according to councillors.
“The promotion messages should emphasise the need for improved water and sanitation activities, contact tracing, active case finding as well as health education and intensified shop inspections,” reads the council document.
The document also stated that Bulawayo remained on high alert for typhoid as it was endemic in some neighbouring cities.
The Director of Health Services Dr Edwin Sibanda said the water shortages made it difficult for the local authority to test samples and determine the cause of diarrhoea.
“The water shortages have affected the monitoring programme as most sampling points were dry on sampling days.
A total of 122 samples have been collected for bacteriological analysis covering routine sampling routes, clinics and complaints from households,” he said.