We have all heard of the recent typhoid outbreak in Zimbabwe in areas like Harare and Chitungwiza. In February 2012 at least 3000 cases of typhoid were recorded, and this forced some key institutions such as law courts to shut down temporarily. Within five months, the typhoid epidemic has struck again with at least 200 cases confirmed in the past week. We as Zimbabweans still bear the scars of the cholera outbreak in 2008/9 where an estimated 5000 people lost their lives.
Typhoid is easily preventable; sanitation and hygiene are the critical measures that can be taken to prevent it. It can only spread in environments where human faeces or urine come into contact with food or drinking water. To prevent typhoid it is crucial to wash your hands after using the toilet and before preparing food.
If anyone has ever been to Chitungwiza or many high density suburbs in Harare they will understand why there is such an outbreak. Raw sewage flows on the streets where children play, there is no running water and people have resolved to use primitive methods of acquiring water. Should we be shocked there is an outbreak when people go for days, or even months without water?
The only consistent message from the government is that there are no funds to deal with these issues adequately. Just yesterday I read in the papers that the presidential motorcade has acquired brand new vehicles. I ask myself where that money came from? The Prime Minister and other ministers have brand new Mercedes Benz cars, who funds these vehicles? The President went with a 92 member delegation to Rio which cost a staggering US 7 million dollars; again I ask where did that money come from? The Finance Minister acknowledged that a lot of the budget was going towards government trips! People are dying whilst they travel.
The 2012 census has a budget of about 37 million US dollars, one wonders why when at the rate that people are dying from preventable diseases does it make sense to count people when we are here today and gone tomorrow because of preventable diseases!