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BCC on diarrhoea outbreak: Delay in seeking treatment could have led to fatalities

Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has urged residents to seek early medical assistance should they experience any diarrhoea symptoms.

The local authority noted that whenever residents approach council clinics for such assistance, it (local authority) will settle the bills through the central government.

This is in light of the diarrhoea outbreak which has claimed 13 lives in Luveve suburb and has left hundreds bed-ridden.

Speaking during a Women`s roundtable table discussion on “Understanding the Typhoid outbreak in Luveve and its gendered impact” hosted by CITE, BCC Divisional Environmental Health Officer, Patrick Ncube said the death toll in the suburb spiked due to delayed medical assistance.

Ncube said the council has made arrangements that in any event of a diarrhoea outbreak residents will get medical attention and the central government will assist in settling the expenses.

“It is unfortunate that there was a delay in acquiring medical attention which resulted in the loss of lives. Medical facilities were availed two weeks into the outbreak and with diarrheal diseases, the longer you delay, the higher the complications that may result,” Ncube said.

“Most people said they could not afford the user fees but going forward should there be any diarrheal diseases, they should seek early treatment. Already as a city, we have engaged our policymakers to advise residents that should there be diarrhoea they should go to clinics and then the local authority will claim the bills from the Central government.”

Ncube said by the time council intensified its efforts into investigating the outbreak they realised that people were not seeking medical assistance.

“Further investigations proved that most residents could not even walk to the clinic because of the severity of the pain and that every other five minutes they would need to rush to the toilet. This is why the statistics did not increase at the clinic,” he said.

“We did take water samples but unfortunately around that time the suburb was under water-shedding so to get water samples from the tap was a struggle and we had to get water from stores containers and had to send those to the laboratories.”

Ncube explained that in a bid to assist the residents the council set up treatment centres where in some cases residents would be treated from the grounds.

“We mobilised resources from our other clinics so that we could be capacitated to help everyone. We also set up rapid response teams to go into the neighbourhood to engage with the elders of the community. We did our best to give people treatment and in cases where the situation was severe we would refer people to the hospital.”

Ncube added that it is unfortunate that the outbreak of the diarrhoea struck at a time when the city is experiencing its worst water shortage.

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