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Cholera outbreak in Nairobi


Date Posted: 6/21/2019 11:37:38 AM

Posted By: Faimus  Membership Level: Gold  Total Points: 1012

For a long time in Nairobi and Kenya at large, cholera has been assumed to be the poor man’s disease. This assumption may seem justified since cholera is a disease that is associated with poor sanitation and it goes without saying that it is almost impossible to associate high end neighborhoods with sanitation issues. However, contrary to this almost factual assumption, cholera is a disease that can attack anywhere and anyone regardless of their status in life. This has been confirmed by the reporting of cholera cases in high end areas in Nairobi in recent times. It is therefore important for all to understand what cholera really is, how it is transmitted, the signs and symptoms of the disease, how it can be prevented, where they should seek help in case they experience some of the signs associated with the disease. This is warranted by the recent outbreak of the disease in the country as confirmed by the Ministry of Health.

Cholera is a bacterial disease. Since it is a bacterial disease, which means that it is treatable by use of antibiotics. The commons symptoms of the disease are severe vomiting and diarrhea. The disease is also communicable and can kill very fast which makes it necessary to seek medical attention in case one exhibits symptoms that are similar to that cholera. If one exhibits any of the symptoms of cholera, they should not downplay their symptoms and try to self-medicate as has become the norm among many people. Instead, they should try to get to the nearest public health facility in their vicinity to get proper medical attention. All government health facilities and the private ones are on alert for new cholera infections especially at this period when there is an outbreak. This means that any person affected by

the disease will receive the best medical attention possible since the Ministry of Health is put in all efforts necessary to curb the spread of the disease and bring an end to the outbreak.

There are factors responsible for the outbreak of cholera. One of the major factors is poor personal hygiene. Personal hygiene is a very wide area that affects us in almost everything we do. Some of the unhygienic practices that lead to cholera infections are failure to wash hands after visiting the toilet, after changing a baby’s diaper, before eating meals; failure to wash raw fruits and vegetables before eating or cooking, failure to properly clean surfaces around the home with antiseptic to kill germs and failure to cover cooked food among others. In Nairobi, the water problem has all become too familiar in several residential areas. This has imposed it upon the population to buy water from water vendors. The water from these street vendors is not safe as it cannot be ascertained where they actually get their water from. It is therefore imperative to treat the water with chlorine before use. Boiling is not a sure way of killing all germs, thus boiling water bought from street vendors does not make it safe for use in cooking and drinking.

Another factor is poor sanitation and open defecation. In informal settlements in the city, proper sanitation is still a very big challenge. This areas lack essential amenities such as clean washrooms. In other cases, the washrooms are completely nonexistent and the residents of such regions result to open defecation. This human waste eventually leads to cholera infections. During the rainy season, this human waste is carried into rivers which are the sources of water for domestic waste. This leads to the contamination of our water and exposes us to cholera infections. In other areas, people, wash their vehicles, dirty laundry and water their animals directly into water sources. This contaminates the sources and makes the water unsafe for human consumption. Another challenge in the city is the overstretched sewer system. This has led to open sewers which contribute to infections. During the rainy seasons, the sewer system is overwhelmed by the excess water and overflows. Sewage water contains a lot of disease causing organisms among them the bacteria that cause cholera. Poor sanitation around our home areas also leads to cholera. It is therefore necessary to ensure our houses and compounds are clean at all times.

Illegal water connections leads to contamination of water and hence cholera. Building and construction is one of the thriving industries in the country. Most of these upcoming buildings are mostly residential units. These means therefore that the prospective residents in these units have to have access to adequate water supply. The water resources in the city are overstretched as it is. This has led to some of the owners of these units to opt to sink boreholes to serve their tenants. On the other hand, others opt to still use the overstretched city council water supply. Getting the approval by the city council for new legal connections is a long and tiresome process since their system is already overwhelmed. This leads to most of these owners to opt for illegal connections to avoid the long process. It is therefore not surprising that the residents of the city in some estates have complained of the water they get from their taps smelling of sewage. This is because these illegal connections have led to merging of the city council water system and sewer system which has contaminated the water in the city. Contaminated water is one of the major causes of cholera.

Consuming water and food prepared under unhygienic conditions can also lead to cholera infections. Contaminated water is in circulation all over the city. It may be the supposed city council water we get from our taps in our homes or the water that we buy from the street water vendors due to water shortage in the city. The Ministry of Health has also warned the public against buying certain brands of bottled water since they are manufactured under unhygienic conditions and not approved for human consumption. The busy city lifestyle means that most of the city residents do not actually have time to prepare meal for themselves. They thus purchase food from hotels and street vendors. It is impossible to verify whether this food is prepared under hygienic conditions. If contaminated, it can lead to cholera infections.

It is therefore imperative for every city resident to main proper personal hygiene and consume clean water and food prepared under hygienic conditions to curb the spread of cholera. The county government should also actively participate by creating awareness among the residents on cholera, resolving the problem of illegal water connections, improving the drainage of the city and construction of proper sanitation amenities in informal settlements.

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