In a recent development, the Department of Health has reported a tragic increase in the number of fatalities arising from the current cholera outbreak in Hammanskraal, situated to the north of Tshwane. The death toll has unfortunately escalated to 20 individuals.
The Department, in its statement issued on Thursday, confirmed that Jubilee District Hospital had catered to as many as 179 patients since the onset of the outbreak until the 24th of May 2023. A closer inspection of the patients’ specifics reveals that 18 among these 179 individuals were transferred to the Dr. George Mukhari Academic Hospital and the Steve Biko Academic Hospital for further medical attention.
In addition to Hammanskraal, the Free State has also reported its inaugural case of a death caused by cholera, raising the overall recent count of fatalities related to cholera across the nation to 21.
A cause of concern is the detection of cholera in three trainees from the local police academy. The academy, housing over 400 trainees, responded promptly by providing the trainees with water bottles.
Amidst this crisis, a significant number of politicians have been seen visiting Jubilee Hospital. Notable among them were the Acting Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, Deputy Minister of Health, Dr. Sibongiseni Dhlomo, and Gauteng MEC for Health and Wellness, Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko.
This surge of political visits is crucial as it allows the government’s high-ranking officials to assess the effectiveness of the current measures being implemented to control the cholera outbreak, consequently guiding them in making decisions about further necessary interventions.
During their visit, the delegation was accompanied by experts from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), the World Health Organization (WHO), and senior officials from both National and Provincial Health Departments, according to Foster Mohale, Department of Health spokesperson.
On a related note, despite the outbreak, the Gauteng Department of Education reassures that the teaching and learning process in the region remains unaffected. However, spokesperson Steve Mabona acknowledged the presence of water shortages in some schools which have been resorting to sharing water from tankers with nearby communities. To address this issue, the department has initiated an urgent water delivery plan that targets 61 schools in Hammanskraal.
Lastly, Senzo Mchunu, the Water and Sanitation Minister, is scheduled to have a meeting with the City of Tshwane Mayor, Cilliers Brink, on Friday. The purpose of this meeting is to collaboratively formulate a plan to finally refurbish the Rooiwal wastewater treatment plant, a task long overdue. This step is expected to mitigate the water-related issues contributing to the health crisis in the region.