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Typhoid Outbreak in Bindura City, Zimbabwe

Typhoid Outbreak in Bindura City


Stopping a deadly typhoid outbreak in Zimbabwe

An emergency response to Typhoid

Treating cases|Stopping the spread|Training health workers

Children at a school in Bindura, Zimbabwe

Following a typhoid outbreak in Bindura City, Zimbabwe, in early 2012, International Medical Corps, with support from the European Commission, mobilised a comprehensive emergency response.

The response would effectively treat existing cases, mitigate the spread of the highly-communicable disease, train local health workers to ensure sustainable care and educate vulnerable communities on healthy hygiene practices.

Diary of an emergency response

The following illustrates the first critical days of International Medical Corps’ response:

Day 1

International Medical Corps receives a call from the province health director about a suspected outbreak of typhoid, with confirmation of one case. An emergency response meeting is called. International Medical Corps mobilizes resources, such as water sanitation tablets and typhoid information, education and communication materials.

Day 2

International Medical Corps leads a field investigation with our partners. The team traces the source of contamination to a shallow well located near broken sewer pipes in the suburbs. International Medical Corps provides fuel and other resources to enable Ministry of Health (MoH) personnel to identify active cases. We also provide technical assistance to the provincial laboratory.

Day 3

The MoH sets up typhoid isolation camps and sanitation zones to handle potential case loads. International Medical Corps provides family water sanitation tablets for 8,000 families and sends new case blood samples to the laboratory to be tested for typhoid.

Day 4

International Medical Corps manages a sewer maintenance crew to repair plugged sewer systems and prevent further contamination. Our public health officer begins health and hygiene education in schools, and distributes water sanitation tablets and educational materials.

Day 5

International Medical Corps public health officers are called in from outlying districts to begin community-wide health and hygiene messaging in schools. Eighty thousand water sanitation tablets are received by International Medical Corps.

Day 6

International Medical Corps trains community volunteers on community health and hygiene education.

Day 7

International Medical Corps begins health and hygiene education in schools, reaching 14 schools and approximately 11,000 students. Sewer unblocking continues. International Medical Corps provides fuel for Ministry of Health motor bikes for further case identification and sends more samples to the lab for confirmation. Door-to-door distribution of new water purification tablets begins, reaching 8,500 households.

Three weeks on

A woman at an International Medical Corps project in Zimbabwe

Due to blanket distribution of water purification tablets, health education and decontamination of shallow wells, the number of new typhoid cases tapers off in week two. By week three, the typhoid outbreak is deemed under control, with no other outbreaks occurring in the province. International Medical Corps resumes normal health and hygiene activities, including training for community volunteers and health workers, to empower local residents to prevent future disease outbreaks.

Our work in providing emergency response to disease outbreaks in Zimbabwe was made possible through funding and support from the European Commission.

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