Catholic Church Joins Government in Fighting Cholera

By Glendor Mubvuringi

A woman displays a banner encouraging people to fight against cholera in Chitungwiza.
A woman displays a banner encouraging people to fight against cholera in Chitungwiza.

It was pomp and funfair at Jambanja Unit M in Chitungwiza on Saturday the 17th of November 2018. The Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference Health Commission led by Sister Salome Mateko and Sister Sanyika from the Archdiocese of Harare Health Desk in partnership with Misereor and Chitungwiza Municipality took to the streets to raise awareness on the cholera pandemic following the outbreak which hit the country especially Harare’s Glenview and Budiriro suburbs. Brian Nyahuma provided edutainment to the people who actively participated in song and dance as they gained more knowledge on how to combat the disease.

Sr. Salome Mateko, ZCBC National Health Coordinator..jpg
Sr. Salome Mateko, ZCBC National Health Coordinator.

Cholera is a disease that is caused by a bacterium called vibrio cholerae. It causes severe watery diarrhea which leads to dehydration. The bacterium is found especially in surface and well water, and in certain types of foods like seafood, raw fruits, vegetables, and grains. It is prevalent in places with poor sanitation and lack of personal hygiene. The symptoms are severe watery stool accompanied by vomiting. Cholera can be prevented by drinking clean and safe water. The methods for purification of water include boiling, using aqua-tablets and water guard. Personal hygiene, adequate sanitation and washing of hands after using the toilet is recommended to prevent the spread of cholera. In suspected cases of cholera, it is encouraged that people restore the lost fluids by drinking salt and sugar solution as they prepare to go to the clinic.

According to the Ministry of Health and Child Care the disease claimed 55 lives in 2018. ZCBC Health Commission together with the Ministry of Health and Child Care have taken a stance to prevent the spread of cholera through raising awareness by engaging in social mobilization.

Brian Nyahuma entertains the community in Chitungwiza during the ZCBC cholera awareness raising campaign..jpg
Brian Nyahuma entertains the community in Chitungwiza during the ZCBC Health Commission’s cholera awareness campaign.

ZCBC Health Commission trained 46 pastors from all church denominations, 54 school health masters and 76 volunteers with whom they are working in Chitungwiza.  ZCBC health commission together with its partners mobilized volunteers from various denominations to go out into the community and educate people on the causes and prevention of cholera. It is worrying to note that there are still new cases of cholera coming up in Harare.

According to Sr. Mateko the volunteers from different church denominations are key in the fight against cholera since they live in communities and know how best to mobilize those communities to work together in combating the disease.

Members from different religious groups pose for a picture with ZCBC Health Commission Coordinator, Sr. Salome Mateko and Sr. Eugenia Sanyika
Some members from different religious groups pose for a picture with ZCBC Health Commission Coordinator, Sr. Salome Mateko and Sr. Eugenia Sanyika in Chitungwiza after the roadshow.

“The roadshow is also a call to the local government to provide people with adequate sanitation and clean water,” Sr. Mateko stated.

She reiterated that the Church plays a leading role as most people go to one church or the other and the church was the right platform through which the message of cholera should be spread. The African Churches’ members especially those from Apostolic sects dominated the awareness campaign although mainstream churches were heavily represented as well. As the Bible says cleanliness is next to Godliness, it takes one person to make a change in personal hygiene to create a clean and safe environment for the whole of Zimbabwe. Together we can make a difference by making Zimbabwe a cholera free zone.

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