Cholera committee appointed for Thabazimbi Local Municipality

THABAZIMBI – Amidst a sharp increase in cholera cases in Zimbabwe and more deaths in Limpopo as a result of cholera infection during the past week, Thabazimbi, along with other towns in the Waterberg, is preparing itself for the possibility of a local outbreak.
A meeting was called on Wednesday 28 January by the Protection Services of the Thabazimbi Local Municipality (TLM) (which is responsible for disaster management) and the regional Department of Health to establish an Outbreak Response Team. This team in turn will establish an operational team, infrastructure and plan of action in case of an outbreak of any disease which has the potential of developing into an epidemic. Currently the threat is cholera.
Victor Pilane, spokesperson for the regional Department of Health, laid down guidelines for instituting an Outbreak Response Committee. He advised on who should be represented on it, what their individual roles would be, how it should operate and what support could be expected from provincial and national structures.
Represented at Wednesday’s meeting were Thabazimbi Local Municipality (TLM), local mines, the Waterberg District Municipality, Thabazimbi Hospital, Department of Water Affairs, Department of Health and local clinics.
Jan Viljoen, chairman of DAU (Distric Agricultural Union), was adamant about the fact the focus of the meeting should be on preventing a cholera outbreak, rather than reacting to one.
He specifically referred to proper management of sewage effluent and said that the Mokolo river, one of the most pristine rivers in our area, was infected with cholera when sewage effluent from Vaalwater spilled into the river. He said that it was a well-known fact that problems occur in many of the local sewage systems, such as Northam and Thabazimbi and that these spillages should be addressed to prevent an outbreak of cholera.
Another practical suggestion was made by Insp Dave van Heerden of the Hoopdal Police Station. He was in favor of launching a public awareness campaign by providing information in leaflets, to the local news paper and radio station on how to avoid falling sick with cholera, how to detect it and  what to do once you are infected.
The Outbreak Response Committee consists of Dr DMS Mabena (chairman), Clinical Manager at Thabazimbi Hospital, Mina Mpedi, Environmental Health Practitioner at the local offices of the Dept of Health, Technical Manager at the TLM, Cornelius Booysen, Infection, Prevention and Control Official at the Thabazimbi Hospital, Sr CJ van Rooyen and Yvonne Moloi (secretary), Disaster Management Co-ordinator at the TLM.
Dr Mabena said that the committee’s priority is to determine the potential risk and likelihood of a cholera outbreak and to establish an organogram of stakeholders who would play a role in fighting an outbreak. He also said that a lot of emphasis would be on the prevention of a cholera outbreak.
Another meeting will be held in a week’s time to give feed back on the progress and do a situation assessment.
Foto: Dr Mabena, Clinical Manager at the Thabazimbi Hospital, was appointed head of the Thabazimbi Outbreak Response Team which will co-ordinate operations in case of a cholera outbreak.