Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

18 May 2014

Tanzania: Deploy Community Health Workers to Sensitise People On Cleanliness

It appears that before the end of the rainy season, Dar es Salaam is routinely hit by a kind of a disease, whether communicable or not, but with related costly health complications.

This goes to show that additional measures are necessary to improve the hygienic condition in all three districts of Dar es Salaam region - Ilala, Kinondoni and Temeke.

Of late, dengue has hit headlines in the local media and perhaps beyond and medical experts have persistently warned over unclean surroundings, especially pools of stagnant water, as the major setting providing excellent breeding centres for the mosquitoes (Aedes) spreading the disease.

Apprehension about the disease is no longer confined to Dar es Salaam. Other regions in the country are now taking precautions, making passionate appeals to residents to report to health facilities when they notice early symptoms of dengue.

The quick response by the government is commendable. Over 500m/- has been set aside to combat further spread of the disease.

Much of the resources have been directed to outdoor spraying, which has been extended to the fumigation of upcountry and city commuter buses.

But hard questions crop up with regard to the community's preparedness, including the simple duty to maintain cleanliness, especially in residential areas.

In the early 1970s the government deployed community health workers throughout the country. Both rural and urban dwellers were reminded of the need to boil water, use toilets, cut grass near houses and eat a balanced diet whenever possible.

The deployed health workers did a commendable job as communicable diseases were brought under control and the nation saved a lot of money which would otherwise have been spent on curative services.

We learnt from the community health workers that kerosene was the most effective remedy in the destruction of mosquito breeding centres. Community needs to be reminded of such simple manoeuvres.

Which goes to indicate why the deployment of health inspectors cannot be over-emphasised as a larger section of the community does not seem to care much about the need to maintain cleanliness even for their own benefit.

It is time community health services were revisited. Again, the authorities should be explicit about the costs of medical services provided.

A statement issued recently that blood screening for dengue were offered free of charge at government hospitals totally conflicts with the reality on the ground.

Cost-sharing fees amounting to 30,000/- are unfairly routinely demanded from the patients for the service. It is not proper for some medical staff to capitalise on the disease to make a quick buck.

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