- 31 deaths recorded
- Boteti is the hardest hit
- 37, 298 diarrhoea cases recoded
- Our water is clean – WUC
The Ministry Health & Wellness (MoH&W) has revealed that a total of thirty one (31) deaths have been recorded since the recent outbreak of the deadly diarrhoea virus. The Boteti area has also emerged as the hardest hit with six (6) deaths reported.
According to the latest figures from the Ministry, thirteen (13) out of twenty seven (27) districts have seen an increase in the death toll caused by the diarrhoea outbreak. The recent number of cases is reported at 37, 298. MoH&W Public Relations Officer Dorcus Motshegwa told the Botswana Gazette yesterday (Monday) that they were awaiting the return of the Permanent Secretary (PS) to declare the outbreak as a national crisis.
“The PS is still out of the country, and upon her arrival she will hold a press conference and declare this as a national crisis. We have a total number of deaths sitting at 31, and this is children between ages of 0-5 years,” Motshegwa revealed.
“The areas that have been affected heavily are Boteti, where we have the highest number of deaths sitting at six. We also have Francistown, Ngamiland and Okavango where we have recorded four deaths in each of those districts. We have conducted our own investigations and they have revealed that this diarrhoea is caused by a virus known as Rota virus, which is mostly found in unclean or dirty areas. Although we are concerned with the number of deaths and recorded cases, we are however we are seeing a decline in the number of cases of diarrhoea. In 2011, we had over 100 deaths, but the number was reduced after we introduced the Rota vaccine,” said the Ministry’s Spokesperson.
In September, when appearing before the Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) (MoH&W) PS Ruth Maphorisa said one of the causes that have led to the outbreak was a result of drinking contaminated water. She said that they had engaged with Botswana Water Utilities (WUC) to look into the water that was distributed in the affected areas.
When contacted for comment on the matter WUC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mmetla Masire dismissed the PS’s remarks, stating that the water his corporation provides is safe for consumption.
“Yes, it true the Ministry of Health did engage with us on the matter, but we did our tests and we were pleased with the results, our waters are safe and good for consumption. We even submitted our results to the Ministry to prove that,” Masire told Botswana Gazette.
“The problem is that Water Utilities is not the only provider of water in this country. We might be the largest providers, but we have so many water providers, who are not even regulated. The next thing there is an outbreak like this, everyone points at WUC. We have long advocated for a water regulator in the country. Government has been reluctant to order that. I even told Honourable Guma Moyo last time at the PAC that we need a water regulator,” concluded the head of WUC.
Last month, this publication reported that (MoH&W) were being accused of concealing vital public information by private medical practitioners. They further raised concern over the increasing number of patients with diarrhoea and the delay by government to respond urgently to the outbreak.
One medical practitioner who spoke to this publication under the condition of anonymity was quoted at the time saying, “The government is really failing the nation. They are concealing vital information that could help contain this outbreak. We have realized that many people are unaware of the seriousness of this diarrhoea. Batswana are taking it lightly. Many do not even know that this outbreak is highly contagious. We have realized that most of the patients we admit contract it from schools. Like I said, I blame the government for failing Batswana. I implore parents to carefully monitor their children and engage schools help contain this outbreak. I even believe that the real statistics are being concealed and that more children are infected by the outbreak than the government is willing to reveal,” he said.