Diarrhoea kills more than 300 people


AT least 323 people died of diarrhoea between January and August this year according to health ministry surveillance report.
The report recorded 294 124 cases.
“Of the reported cases, 5 846 and five deaths were children under five years of age,” reads part of the report.
Other diarrhoea-related diseases include cholera, Typhoid and Dysentery.
The cumulative figure for dysentery is 23 899 cases and 71 deaths.
The cumulative figure for suspected Typhoid cases is 768 and 445 confirmed cases while total cholera cases reported so far, were 20 confirmed cases and 42 suspected cases.
This ‘development’ comes at a time when the country is grappling with the issue of water shortages in rural areas and urban areas particularly.
Official statistics from the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstats) show that over 30 percent of the population has no access to clean and safe water as well as sanitary facilities.
The majority of the country’s rural population relies on untreated water from open sources including dams, wells and rivers.
The same trend prevails in urban settlements where some suburbs have not had running water for a decade now.
In Harare, only 40 percent of residents have access to clean and safe drinking water every day.
For the remaining 60 percent, few clean water options are available.
Some are forced to buy bottled water, source from water bourses, although even these supplies are running low.
This week we will focus on dysentery, it causes, symptoms and how best it can be prevented.
Dysentery is an inflammation of the intestine causing diarrhoea with blood and mucus.
Like cholera, dysentery is spread by contamination of food and water, usually in impoverished areas with poor sanitation.
Dysentery is caused by a number of types of infection such as bacteria, viruses, parasitic worms, or protozoa.
It is a type of gastroenteritis.
The mechanism is an inflammatory disorder of the intestine, especially of the colon.
The most common form of dysentery is Bacillary Dysentery which is typically a mild illness, causing symptoms normally consisting of mild stomach pains and frequent passage of stool or diarrhoea.
Symptoms normally present themselves after one to three days and are usually no longer present after a week.
In extreme cases, dysentery patients may pass over one litre of fluid per hour.
More often, individuals will complain of nausea, abdominal pain, and frequent watery and usually foul-smelling diarrhoea, accompanied by mucus and blood, rectal pain, and fever.
Vomiting, rapid weight-loss, and generalised muscle aches sometimes also accompany dysentery.
On rare occasions, the amoebic parasite will invade the body through the bloodstream and spread beyond the intestines.
In such cases, it may more seriously infect other organs such as the brain, lungs, and the liver.
Dysentery is managed by maintaining fluids by using oral rehydration therapy.
If this treatment cannot be adequately maintained due to vomiting or the profuseness of diarrhoea, hospital admission may be required for intravenous fluid replacement.
In ideal situations, no antimicrobial therapy should be administered until microbiological microscopy and culture studies have established the specific infection involved.
When laboratory services are not available, it may be necessary to administer a combination of drugs, including an amoebicidal drug to kill the parasite, and an antibiotic to treat any associated bacterial infection.
Early detection and notification of Epidemic Dysentery, especially among adults, allows for speedy reaction to help fight the disease’s spread.
Hand-washing with soap and water can reduce secondary transmission of bacterial infections among household members.
And among larger groups, the most effective strategies to control transmission of bacterial dysentery are to
Distribute soap.
Provide clean water.
Promote hand-washing before eating or preparing food and after defecation.
Install and maintain proper sewage systems or treatment facilities.


  1. Frightening statistics. Good that you have shared. Government and NGOs need go be on the lookout and work together to prevent and manage any outbreaks.


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