Gweru allays typhoid spread fears as schools open
By Munyaradzi Musiiwa
Gweru City Council has enhanced its fight against typhoid by training more than 50 district school heads, inspecting more than 200 school premises and training more than 1 200 students ahead of the new school term that started yesterday.
Most parents have been sceptical about sending their children to school following the outbreak of the disease in Gweru, which claimed nine lives and affected more than 1 500 people.
It is suspected that the disease emanated from the cross contamination of water and sewerage.
In an interview, Gweru Town Clerk Ms Elizabeth Gwatipedza said the local authority was also sampling water from the schools’ water sources to ensure that the water was safe for drinking.
Ms Gwatipedza said some boreholes sampled had since been condemned.
“Approximately 50 district school heads were trained, while 32 borehole samples were collected and six were not satisfactory due to presence of faecal contamination, she said.
“All higher and tertiary institutions were inspected. Over 200 premises were inspected and the exercise is still going on. A risk assessment exercise was done at Midlands State University (MSU) and over 1 200 first-year students were sensitised on typhoid.
“Around 1 200 students have been sensitised on typhoid to assist as peer educators around the MSU community,” she said.
Ms Gwatipedza said Gweru City Council was also training food handlers at boarding schools and canteens at tertiary institutions.
She said the learning institutions were being educated on proper waste disposal practices, distribution of disinfectants and water containers in all schools.
“We have the following precautionary measures in place,” she said.
“These include sensitisation of school heads, schools inspection, water sampling of boreholes, distribution of Information Education and Communication (IEC) material on typhoid prevention.
“We have also embarked on the sensitisation of school pupils during the first week of opening on good hand hygiene practices, distribution of water disinfectants for borehole water treatment at point of consumption as well as distribution of water containers to schools for proper water storage to prevent contamination.
“We are moving around schools emphasising good food hygiene practices on observation of cold/hot chain storage principles where pupils are provided with food. We are also training food handlers, as well as educating on proper waste disposal practices.” The Herald.