Lincoln Towindo and Praise Runyowa
Fourteen-year-old Tinashe Matare squirms feebly as he desperately tries to shift his frail-looking frame to the other side of a threadbare clinic bed.
It takes him what seems an eternity to accomplish the simple task.
Suddenly, he halts the writhing motions.
He has found the softest and most comfortable part of the tattered bed!
Joseph, his elder brother, who has been by his side since his admission to Seke South Clinic, offers him a cup of water.
“Just take a sip, Tina. The doctors say that’s the only way you can get better and leave this place,” he says while extending his hand.
Tinashe mumbles an inaudible response that, however, sees his brother abandon the mission of trying to make him drink water.
“He contracted the disease while he was visiting our aunt who lives in Unit D. They were using water from a nearby well which was dug up by their neighbours since tap water is a luxury in that area. They only receive tap water once every fortnight,” disclosed Joseph.
Tinashe is one of several hundreds of Chitungwiza residents who have been infected by typhoid.
According Mrs Dadirai Katsande, sister-in-charge at Seke South Clinic, typhoid cases in Chitungwiza have been on the increase over the last month.
The clinic, the major typhoid referral centre in the dormitory town, has so far dealt with over 200 confirmed typhoid cases this month.
The clinic is dealing with an average of 10 confirmed cases a day, the highest number of cases (41) having been recorded last Wednesday.
The town health department has since closed eight wells and illegal boreholes which tested positive of the typhoid bacteria.
Mrs Katsande said the clinic is failing to cope.
“We are sending out teams to distribute water-treatment tablets and carry out public awareness campaigns in areas that have recorded a high concentration of reported cases.
“Unsafe water sources have been closed and we urge people to continue using the aqua tablets we distributed since we do not know when these water shortages will eventually end,” she said.
The latest typhoid outbreak is another twist in the sad tale of Chitungwiza.
Mr Cephas Chikondo, of Unit M, said water shortages in the dormitory town have reached alarming levels.
“The situation is worsening in this area, considering we go for days without water and we rely on recycling water.
After bathing, one makes sure that water being used does not go down the drain as it is needed for use after one has used the toilet,” he said.
“What is more confusing is that council is sending us bills every month for the services they are not rendering. Last month I paid US$43 but we had tap water for only three days the whole month.”
The Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr Henry Madzorera, disclosed that Government has since deployed additional nurses to areas that have reported typhoid cases.
“We have nurses who go in these suburbs looking for typhoid cases and treat them because early treatment is vital when dealing with typhoid,” he said.