Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has noted that the persistent water shortages in the city have led to an increase in the number of diarrhoea cases recorded to date.
According to the latest council minutes, the month of September recorded over a thousand cases compared to two hundred in August.
The council’s health inspectorate report attributed the increase in diarrhoea cases to the shift in the water-shedding schedule from 48 hours to 72 hours a week. This has forced residents to resort to alternative water sources, which may be unsafe for drinking.
“The increase in Diarrhoea cases (1120) reported in September 2023 compared to the previous month (206) followed the routine implementation of water rationing measures (48-to-72-hour water shedding schedule) that resulted in communities resorting to alternative water sources which might be of unsafe quality. Some of these risk factors included low-risk perception, water scarcity, alternative water sources, poor personal hygiene, overcrowding, sewer chokes, malnutrition, and dumping of waste, among others,” the report reads.
The report also highlighted that mumps cases were more prevalent in 2023 than in 2022, with the highest number being recorded in the Emakhandeni district. However, there were no deaths recorded from the disease and the recovery rate was 96.6%.
The council noted that as a mitigation measure, it is important for residents to get vaccinated against measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR). One dose of MMR vaccine is 93% effective against measles, 78% effective against mumps, and 97% effective against rubella. Two doses of MMR vaccine are 97% effective against measles and 88% effective against mumps.
The council also reported a decrease in acute malnutrition cases in September 2023, with only six cases reported compared to 18 in August. There were also no malaria cases reported in September 2023. However, there was an increase in dog bite cases, with 39 cases reported in September 2023 compared to 24 in August.
The council urged residents to take precautions to protect themselves from waterborne diseases and other health risks. This includes boiling water before drinking it, washing hands frequently, and getting vaccinated against preventable diseases. CITE