Spot News ZW

Zimbabwe News Owls


Cholera fears as churches gather for Easter

SEVERAL churches across the country plan to have huge Easter gatherings with some apostolic sects expecting more than 100 000 congregants raising fears of a renewed surge in infections that could claim more lives.

Zimbabwe is grappling with its worst cholera outbreak since 2008 with the Health and Child Care ministry reporting more than 29 144 cases and 300 deaths to date.

Government says it will intensify monitoring and supervision of all large gatherings during the upcoming Easter holiday to minimise the spread of cholera.

However, with Easter church gatherings looming, there are fears that infections will surge, health experts said.

“The upcoming Easter holiday poses a significant risk of further transmission,” said medical practitioner Mlungisi Ndebele.

“Large gatherings, particularly in areas with poor sanitation, create ideal conditions for the spread of cholera.”

Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal illness caused by ingesting contaminated food or water.

It can lead to rapid dehydration and death if left untreated.

While treatable, the disease can be deadly, especially for young children and the elderly.

Afya Yetu director, Jabari Nguvu, who spearheads the fight against water-borne diseases in eastern and southern Africa, said large church gatherings could be a breeding ground for cholera.

“Cholera is an aggressive bacterial infection spread through contaminated water and food. Packed churches with limited access to clean water and proper handwashing facilities create a perfect storm for transmission,” Nguvu told NewsDay.

“One infected person can quickly spread the bacteria to dozens of others in close proximity.”

He emphasised the need for strict monitoring of church gatherings and adherence to hygiene standards to prevent cholera from spreading.

“The good news is that cholera is preventable,” he said.

“The measures put in place by the ministry, like shorter services and hygiene monitoring, are crucial.

“By ensuring access to clean water, proper sanitation and encouraging frequent handwashing, we can drastically reduce the risk of transmission during Easter services.”

During post-Cabinet briefing on Tuesday, Information minister Jenfan Muswere said church gatherings needed clearance to prevent the spread of cholera.

“Going forward, no church gatherings will be permitted unless church leaders install solar-powered boreholes or bush pumps, along with proper sanitation facilities,” he said.

“All gatherings must obtain prior clearance and be supervised by health authorities.”

He said President Emmerson Mnangagwa directed the installation of solar-powered water facilities and boreholes at religious sites like Karuyana Shrine. Council for Churches in Africa president Rocky Moyo, however, said their Easter gathering was going ahead but with a number of interventions to prevent the spread of cholera.

“We are training our health ambassadors to do the peer to peer engagement with the communities around in efforts to curb cholera outbreak,” Moyo said.

“So this is what we are doing with the Ministry of Health in all provinces. We work hand in hand with it.”

“We go to our churches and teach them from there with the ministry of health.”

Johanne the Fifth of Africa leader Archbishop Andby Makururu urged churches to play a key role in raising awareness against cholera during their Easter gatherings.

“We are urging all our churches to implement strict hygiene protocols during Easter services,” Makururu said.

“This includes providing handwashing facilities and ensuring proper sanitation measures are in place.”

Church camps planned for Easter have been cancelled in Mashonaland Central province due to a rise in cholera cases and deaths.

Provincial medical director Clemence Tshuma was quoted saying church services during Easter will be limited to three hours and monitored by health officials.



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *