By Mbeya Highlands FM Radio
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Cholera is stalking southern regions

IT is dismaying to hear that seven people have died of cholera following an outbreak of the killer disease in five wards along the Lake Rukwa shoreline.

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We are also told that 138 other victims have been diagnosed with the pandemic. Fishing camps have been closed and all fishing activities have been banned in a quest to minimise the spread of the disease. The sick have been quarantined.

Well, this effort has been in progress since the disease hit the area in November last year. The disease, it appears, is difficult to defeat in this locality. A similar situation is worrying Zambia where the city of Lusaka is grappling with terrible attacks.

The pandemic has cropped up elsewhere in that country, compelling the state to rope in military help. In Malawi the cholera threat is so bad that half the country has been put on alert. Zambia and Malawi are neighbouring countries whose citizens travel to Tanzania quite frequently.

This means there should be a cholera alert in Tanzania, especially in the southern regions. The government should respond urgently in a quest to save lives. Cholera is a highly dangerous disease that, indeed, thrives in cities, municipalities and towns where unsanitary conditions prevail mostly in congested places occupied by squatters.

The pandemic often targets the poor who live in filthy conditions with no clean piped water. Here swarms of flies roam at will spread fearsome diseases that include cholera. Unsanitary conditions also invite dysentery and typhoid which are surefooted killers.

These diseases, invariably, erupt where communities do not have good pit latrines, toilets or lavatories. It would be remiss on our part, however, not to mention expressly that sanitation efforts will only come to fruition if clean water is provided.

Everyone should be aware that cholera is an acute diarrheal disease caused by an infection in the intestines that can kill even a healthy adult in a matter of hours. Cholera symptoms, include severe watery diarrhea, which can surface in as little as two hours or persist up to five days after infection, and can then trigger extreme dehydration, kidney failure and death.

It is, nevertheless, rather shameful to contract cholera. The pandemic is spread through contaminated fecal matter, which can be consumed through tainted food and water sources or because of poor sanitation and hygiene, like unwashed hands.

It is also a shame that not everyone has access to clean water or a good pit latrine. Inadequate access to safe water and sanitation services, coupled with poor hygiene practices, kills and sickens hundreds of children every day and leads to impoverishment and diminished opportunities for thousands of adults in this country. The State sat up and took notice.