19 January 2016

Tanzania: WHO Warning on Cholera Timely - Let's Act Promptly

The warning by the World Health Organisation (WHO) over the apparently unstoppable spread of cholera in Tanzania should act as a wake-up call for health authorities to spring into action. For more than four months now, the disease has slowly but steadily spread around the country, killing scores of people.

Despite this disturbing situation, authorities have not responded with the necessary urgency. There doesn't seem to be ample public education on how to control the deadly disease that is spread by bacteria through poor hygiene.

Though there is a national task force set up by the ministry of Health to manage the outbreak, very little has been achieved in the form of house- to- house social mobilisation activities.

The biggest challenge yet remains in ensuring water availed to the people is safe for domestic consumption. Although this might be achieved easily in urban areas, health authorities need to double their efforts in rural areas and urban slums where such services are generally non-existent.

This is especially true for Dar es Salaam, where recent demolition of unplanned structures has pushed thousands out of the sanitation systems, leaving families exposed to the disease.

Together with overhauling sanitation systems in the country, health officials will now need to ensure chlorine testing and water chlorination are implemented to improve the access to safe water by millions of Tanzanians.

More efforts should also be invested in civic education on the importance of hygiene. This should be supported by consistent environmental sanitation by local authorities. Local governments don't have to wait on the President to declare campaigns for neighbourhood be clean ups.

We must develop and sustain a culture of cleanliness in which case, we won't have to be goaded by Head of State or even Local Government authorities to be hygienic. We have been warned by the UN agency that cholera is here to stay unless we say No to cholera by improving our hygiene. Let us do it.


It is most disturbing that after so many years of political independence, some people still believe misfortunes such as illness, death or financial problems are the result of witchcraft.

This leads to the labelling of the most marginalised and those that are least able to defend themselves from such accusations--mostly older women.

Between 2005 and 2011, over 500 people were murdered on suspicion that they were witches, research conducted by HelpAge International reveals. Worryingly, this figure is increasing.

The Tanzanian annual human rights report shows that 630 people were killed in 2012. This rose to 765 in 2013, of which 505 were women. In Geita Region, 32 people were brutally killed between October and December last year.

For too long, the approach in combating this cultural scourge has been reactive. This strategy has proved ineffective in eradicating the backward practice.

We need to rethink our strategy and devise new ways of tackling witchcraft killings.

Arresting and prosecuting and imprisoning witch killers can serve as deterrence. But, for witch killing to end for good, belief in witchcraft must be abandoned. This needs re-education of our people.

Changing attitudes and mentality takes great time and effort. Legislation in itself isn't enough, enforcement has to go in hand with mental and cultural reorientation.


Unpaid Teachers Arrears Cited As Reason for Shoddy Performance

Education stakeholders in Mwanza region have expressed their concerns that poor performance in primary schools was… Read more »

Copyright © 2016 The Citizen. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 900 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.