December 10 2008

SOS Children's Villages Zimbabwe takes further precautions in the light of the ongoing cholera epidemic

10/12/2008 - SOS Children's Villages Zimbabwe has received supplies for distribution to family strengthening programme partners and to SOS Children's Village households in their continuing precautions against cholera.

Photo: Justine Lungu
At the SOS Hermann Gmeiner School in Bindura children receive Mahewu,a traditional nutritional drink which is being given as the pupils only receive one meal a day at home - Photo: J. Lungu

SOS Children's Villages Zimbabwe has received the following from UNICEF for use in both their family based care work and family strengthening programmes to strengthen the precautionary measures already undertaken:  140,000 water purification tablets,  4,500 jerry cans, 4,500  bars of soap and 45 cholera posters.

The majority of these items will be distributed to households partnering with SOS family strengthening programmes in impoverished communities in Harare, Bulawayo and Bindura, where, in total, SOS Children's Villages Zimbabwe partners with 3,500 families.

In Harare, the distribution on 10 December will take place in Budiriro. Budiriro has, to date, reported approximately 50% of the reported cases of cholera in Zimbabwe's outbreak according to World Health Organisation figures.

In addition, Médecins Sans Frontières have recommended medical supplies for the three SOS Children's Villages be provided by UNICEF. These supplies are comprehensive contingency kits which include intravenous fluids, giving sets, cannulas, oral re-hydration solution, zinc oxide tape, skin disinfectant (iodine), HTH-chlorine, gloves, buckets with lid for vomit and stool, 20 litre buckets with lid and tap for oral re-hydration solution and hand washing.

Photo: SOS Archives
One of the families in Bindura which are provided with medical supplies - Photo: SOS Archives

Gary Birditt, director for SOS Children's Villages Zimbabwe comments, "with the level of activity and resources already in place, my view is that SOS Children's Villages Zimbabwe is co-operating well with and complementing the activities of UNICEF by assisting in the penetration of affected communities through our family strengthening activities. In the three SOS Children's Villages, preparedness is good with a high level of awareness".

In the villages, SOS mothers and co-workers constantly monitor the children and youths. SOS mother Goe, from the village in Waterfalls, Harare says of her own precautions: "I fetch water from the borehole and boil it first before drinking. I always remind the children to flush the toilet and clean their hands with soap after using the toilet. I also ensure that fruits and vegetables are washed thoroughly by adding some bleach [a weak solution of chlorinated bleach is a recommended way to treat and purify water for laundry and food preparation, although, obviously, not for drinking water] to the washing water. I cook food properly and ensure that all children eat it whilst it's still hot. If not, I ensure that the food is well covered and refrigerated. I encourage children not to shake hands and I also spray flies in the home."

Photo: Tiago Nhangumele
At the three SOS Children's Villages in Zimbabwe special precautions are taken to protect the children - Photo: T. Nhangumele
Similarly, from SOS Children's Village Bulawayo, SOS mother Mlalazi says, "We always emphasise on hygiene…like washing hands after using the toilet, and washing hands before handling food. We also boil water, eat hot foods and disinfect all water that we use for cleaning utensils…" Mama Moyo continues, "We try by all means to ensure that the environment we live in is clean and hygienic. We start by teaching children about cholera - what causes cholera, how to prevent it, and so forth. We also boil all drinking water. We make sure food is thoroughly cooked and we eat it while still hot…"

With the combination of high awareness and precautionary measures, children, SOS mothers and co-workers remain free from infection by cholera.