PASSIONATE appeal has been made to the people of Zanzibar to be on full alert, in the wake of reports that, from March this year, at least 23 people have been infected with cholera.
Speaking at a media briefing session yesterday, the Acting Minister for Health, Ms Riziki Pembe Juma, urged the people to take precautions, saying hostile weather has made matters worse.
“The ongoing heavy rains have compromised hygienic standards, as a result of which the incidence of severe diarrhea and vomiting has risen amongst the people,” he said, adding that the government had established an emergency camp at Chumbuni, to cope with the worrying situation.
Ms Juma said most cases of infected persons were recorded in Urban District, West A and West B districts in North A in Unguja, as well as Micheweni and Wete in Pemba.
He explained that whereas some of the patients admitted in the camp were confirmed to have been infected, others had cholera-like symptoms, but they were nonetheless placed under close examinations gambling with their health status would be improper.
The government has suspended the sale of foodstuffs and refreshments like juice in open spaces as one of the precautionary measures, and urged the people to ensure that they break the fast–a fundamental feature of the Holy month of Ramadan– in a hygienically very clean environment.
Only a few restaurants and kiosks have been given special permits to operate, after being certified to be hygienically safe, and therefore not posing health threats to customers.
“Everyone should take part in the war against cholera, by keeping one’s surroundings clean, and using only treated or boiled drinking water,” the Health official stressed.
On his part, the Director of Disease Prevention and Control at the Health ministry, Dr Fadhil Abdalla Mohamed, advised parents to ensure that their children drank clean and safe water, noting that, a three-month old child was amongst the in-patients at the Chumbuni camp.
He elaborated: “Parents must block their children from playing in stagnant water ponds, sensitize them to drink clean and safe water, as well as to wash fruits with clean and safe water before eating them.”
Heavy rains continue to pound parts of Zanzibar, clogging sewer systems and exacerbating the cholera problem. Last year, cholera killed nearly 70 people and 4,330 were hospitalized. Cholera is caused by various types of the bacteria “Vibrio cholera”.
The disease is spread mostly by water and food that has been contaminated with human faeces that hosts the bacteria. Insufficiently cooked seafood is also a common source for infection.