Police To Monitor Easter Prayers
27 March 2024
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The Zimbabwean government has taken significant steps to mitigate the spread of cholera during the Easter holiday, a period marked by extensive public gatherings, especially in the form of church congregations and religious pilgrimages. Amidst a concerning cholera outbreak with cumulative suspected cases numbering 29,144, these measures are both timely and critical.

Recognizing the heightened risk of disease transmission during large gatherings, the Ministry of Health and Child Care has been proactive in its response. Integrated training programs have been initiated across several provinces, including Midlands, Masvingo, Mashonaland Central, and Mashonaland West. These programs aim to bolster existing healthcare personnel’s capabilities in crucial areas such as case management, surveillance, infection prevention, control, and social mobilisation. Such comprehensive training is indispensable in equipping healthcare workers with the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively manage and contain the outbreak.

The directive from the Cabinet, as communicated by Dr. Jenfan Muswere, the Minister of Information, Publicity, and Broadcasting Services, underscores the government’s resolve to control the situation. All public gatherings during the Easter holidays are required to obtain prior clearance and will be subjected to supervision by health authorities. This step is not only about ensuring compliance with health guidelines but also about actively monitoring and managing the risk of cholera spread in these congregations.

A particularly notable directive involves the mandatory installation of solar-powered or bush pump boreholes by church leaders, aimed at guaranteeing access to safe water sources. This requirement reflects a strategic approach to tackle one of the primary vectors of cholera transmission: contaminated water.

The targeting of known hotspots with community awareness campaigns, oral rehydration points, and the establishment of cholera treatment camps further exemplifies a targeted response to the outbreak. These actions are crucial in not only treating those affected but also in preventing further cases by ensuring communities are well-informed and have access to essential healthcare services.

Collaboration with religious organizations, such as the partnership with the Apostolic Women Empowerment Trust to train interfaith leaders in Manicaland and Masvingo provinces, highlights the government’s recognition of the influential role of religious leaders in community health initiatives. By engaging these leaders, the government aims to foster a collaborative and collective response to the outbreaks of cholera and polio, leveraging the trust and reach of these community figures to amplify public health messages.

The decision to install solarised water facilities and boreholes, as directed by President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, at various sites including the Karuyana Shrine, is a testament to the government’s commitment to ensuring safe water and sanitation facilities. This is particularly crucial in areas where such infrastructure is lacking, thereby reducing the risk of cholera transmission among congregations and the wider community.

The expansion of the outbreak beyond the 17 traditional cholera hotspot districts highlights the urgency and necessity of these measures. By taking a multifaceted approach that combines strict supervision of public gatherings, infrastructure development, community engagement, and capacity building among healthcare workers, the Zimbabwean government aims to curtail the spread of cholera and protect public health during the Easter holidays and beyond.