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Don’t shake hands at funerals, use a fist or elbow, Zimbabwe health minister advises after cholera outbreak

May I remind the House that Chegutu district was one of the districts worst affected by the 2008/2009 cholera outbreak. So, it is on the minds of the people of Chegutu so much. On the 8th of January 2018, an eight year old female sought treatment from a private clinic for diabetes, hypertension and watery diahorrea and was sent home where she later died the same day.

On the 9th of January 2018, a home funeral in the community was done where three men were tasked with the burial ritual. I must say that this is a religious group. So, they have got a special way of treating their own burial rights. On the 13th, a second death of a 47 year old man who participated in the burial ritual also died. This particular patient presented to the hospital four days after falling ill and this was a big delay.

A third death of a 72 year old male who also participated in the ritual occurred…

HON. MLISWA: On a point of order Mr. Speaker. This is a Ministerial Statement on cholera which Members of Parliament asked for. In my count, we do not seem to have a full quorum again and I mean this. We implore the Hon. Ministers to come up with Ministerial Statements and this issue of cholera can be in your own constituency. As a result, I am invoking once again Standing Order 56 for every Member of Parliament to be here so that they listen to this statement. I thank you.

[Bells rung.]

[Quorum formed.]

HON. DR. PARIRENYATWA (speaking)… the fourth death was of a 71 year old male which occurred on the 18th January and whose funeral was partially supervised on the 19th January, 2018. It is very critical to note that all these suspected cases are all linked to funerals that occurred in the locality. Chegutu Municipality has critical shortage of water due to ageing water reticulation infrastructure like most towns in Zimbabwe and this need to be addressed as a matter of urgency. When clean water is pumped, it tends to mix with sewer due to constant breakdown of water and sewer reticulation infrastructure. This is not happening in Chegutu alone but in many other cities and towns, including Harare. The old infrastructure can no longer cope with the huge influx of people now depending on this old ageing infrastructure which was constructed a long time back.

There is rampant vending in undesignated places, including selling of meat and fruits on pavements. People buy and eat all this on the streets in unhygienic conditions, putting themselves at risk of cholera and other diarrheal and enteric diseases such as typhoid. People should desist from eating foods cooked or prepared in unhygienic conditions. We encourage people to practice good hygiene practices – to wash hands before eating food, to wash hands after visiting the toilet and to wash hands after changing nappies. We urge people to drink safe water which should have been boiled or treated with appropriate treatment chemicals.

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