Chiefs urged to coerce religious sects to seek medical attention

Norman Dururu


GWERU – Four people have succumbed to cholera in Midlands Province since the disease re-
emerged last month leading to calls for traditional chiefs to play their part in conscientising religious
sects to seek medical attention.
Speaking during a provincial chiefs’ advocacy meeting on Tuesday, Provincial Epidemiology and
Disease Control Officer, Dr Reginald Mhene said four people died in Chirumanzu at an apostolic sect
gathering recently.
Dr Mhene however, allayed fears of the disease getting out of control saying it has since been
“The province recorded a total of 11 cases mainly in Chirumanzu and Zvishavane.
“Cholera is very dangerous and can kill within two to four hours if not attended to and unfortunately
four people died while at an apostolic sect gathering,” he said.
Dr Mhene urged chiefs throughout the province to play their part in using their influence by
conscientising religious sects to seek medical attention.
Midlands Provincial Medical Director Dr Mary Muchekeza echoed Dr Mhene’s sentiments.
“Chiefs are in charge of their jurisdictions and should therefore help in changing religious beliefs that
result in people shunning health institutions.
“I believe there is a lot you can do to persuade or coerce such religious institutions to change their
doctrines and such beliefs.
“Health institutions and health practitioners will never do anything to harm them. In fact we will
treat them so that they live healthier lives,” she said.
Dr Muchekeza said chiefs should make sure churches build toilets and have water before they start
congregating in bushes and under trees as absence of such lead to cholera outbreaks.
Apart from cholera, Dr Mhene said the province has other challenges like bilharzia, trachoma, drug
and substance abuse and Covid-19.
He said the Ministry of Health and Child Care has managed 65 percent coverage of the trachoma
mass drug administration programme in Gweru District, which is a hotspot for the disease.
“Azithromycin pills are there in all clinics throughout Gweru District and those that have not taken
the drug should visit their nearest health centres where the drug is being administered for free,” he
Trachoma can result in blindness if one is not treatment on time.
Dr Mhene said bilharzia hotspots include Gokwe North, Gokwe South, Mberengwa and Kwekwe.

He said cases have, however, decreased from over 6 000 to about 4 500 between 2018 and 2022.
The province has Covid-19 active cases in Chirumanzu, Gweru, Mberengwa and Zvishavane Districts.
“Deaths have gone down because of vaccination but it is important to note that we are still
recording cases and therefore those that have not been vaccinated should do so,” he said.
The Health Ministry was also conducting drug and substance abuse awareness in schools,
universities and other hotspots.
“We have mental health issues as a result of drug and substance abuse among youths,” he said.
Over 500 drug and substance abuse cases were recorded in the province between January and May
this year.

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