The Eastern and Southern countries in Africa face a serious cholera epidemic. This epidemic displays the lack of public sanitation as well as neglect from the government that many African countries face.
Cholera is a diarrheal illness caused from an infection of the intestine with bacteria called vibriocholerae. The symptoms of the illness include: diarrhea, vomiting and leg cramps, and such loss of body fluid can lead to dehydration and sometimes shock. Oftentimes, death can occur within only hours without treatment.
Since the start of the New Year, there have been over 2,009 cases and 22 deaths in the countries in Africa facing the cholera crisis. Zambia, one of the countries in southern Africa, faced the worst of the epidemic, with more than 74 deaths since October of 2017. The main area where Zambia’s impacted with cholera is in their capital, Lusaka. The government banned street food from vendors in the capital to reduce the number of cases, but in return, caused violent protests from the vendors.
The government, along with the World Health Organization, states the cause of the cholera crisis is poor waste management and lack of personal hygiene. These factors cause the contamination of food and water, which in turn, can spark the epidemic.
To help with the cholera crisis, the government has sent in the army to control measures, clean the markets and unblock drains. An oral vaccine program was also launched with the goal of immunizing one million people, and since its implementation, the number of cholera cases have dropped.
The effects of the cholera crisis have not just been deadly, but also have forced public places to close. Many schools, churches and workspaces are deferred until they can contain the outbreak. This impediment puts citizen jobs, payment and education on hold.
The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests the prevention of cholera consists of clean water, sanitation and reminding communities of basic hygiene behaviors that includes hand washing with soap after using the bathroom, before eating or touching food.
The WHO also suggests there should be media regarding health education messages for these reminders, and the implementation of routine antibiotic and immunizations if available.
– Chloe Turner