The Division is located at Rowan Martin Building (RMB) and it is headed by Mrs Ruby F. Tapera.
Functions/Objectives of The Division
- Issuing health registration or license certificates to the business community.
- Preventing, responding and controlling epidemics.
- Increasing access to safe water and sanitation.
- Controlling pests and vectors.
- Ensuring food safety.
The harsh socio-economic environment experienced in the country in the past ten years adversely affected the health operating environment. From the samples taken on the municipal water in 2009, all the reports show that the water is satisfactory although due to problems like pipe bursts and the risk of contamination in the water network, it would be difficult to generalize.
The samples taken on borehole water in Harare so far have shown satisfactory results although we are not in a position to generalize on all borehole water. The policy on borehole water is that each particular borehole water should be tested. The biggest challenge has been in the high density areas where in the absence of municipal water, the residents rely on unprotected wells.
The city boasts of a very cooperative and compliant business community and this has been shown by their willingness, with minimum force, to license their premises. In 2007 department issued 25 863 health registration certificates and in 2008 the figure had dropped to 19 487, attributable to the worsening economic environment. The department can build on these standards and culture to promote a world class health business environment.
The city experiences high pollution levels and this is attributable to both lax pollution regulations and poor enforcement capacity. The city has also witnessed an increase in industrial activities in the residential areas, resulting in increased levels of air, land and water pollution.
The city experienced its worst cholera outbreak in 2008/9 and this was caused mainly by the erratic supply of water and sewerage blockages in most residential suburbs and Budiriro high density suburb was the worst affected. A total of 17132 patients were treated at the cholera treatment centres that were set up at Budiriro and Beatrice Road Hospital and there were a total of 495 cholera deaths.
The 2008/9 cholera epidemic was protracted and was severe because the health delivery system was also facing numerous challenges that included the critical shortage of health professionals and basic health support requirements like drugs, transport, protective clothing and materials. As long as the city faces erratic supply of water, uncontrolled sewerage blockages, uncollected refuse, unplanned settlements without the requisite supporting infrastructure, the city will always face a looming cholera threat.
The City experienced a Typhoid outbreak beginning October 2011 in Dzivaresekwa high density residential area. The outbreak later spread to other suburbs such as Warren Park, Kuwadzana, Mufakose, Mabelreign and the peri urban area of Granary. The total number of cases treated as in-patients or out-patients was 1 175 and of these 26 were confirmed as Salmonella typhi by the laboratory. No deaths were reported. The probable source of infection was identified as contaminated shallow wells in the area. The lack of provision of adequate potable water and sanitation is a disease time bomb, the bomb exploded with devastating effects.
Malaria is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in Zimbabwe. Malaria transmission and distribution in the country is mainly influenced by altitude. According to the national malaria stratification, Harare city lies in a malaria free zone. Current entomological and epidemiological evidence has confirmed this status for the city. Accordingly, confirmed malaria cases seen and treated in Harare are imported. Harare should accordingly plan to protect the malaria free zone status.
Most Harare residents have not been exposed to malaria infections before, therefore have zero immunity to the disease. With this level of immunity, if malaria infection were to occur in Harare, the consequences would be disastrous. The malaria threat for Harare is real. There is therefore need to strengthen existing strategies which are designed to detect and prevent incipient malaria transmission in the city. The deterioration in environmental conditions in Harare as highlighted above has meant that Harare is currently always at risk of major outbreaks – in fact from a public health perspective, the city is sitting on a health time bomb.