Dar es Salaam. Authorities at two major referral hospitals in Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro regions are contending with a cholera outbreak after patients within the hospital premises were suspected of the disease and rushed to the emergency departments.
Two staff members at Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) and one medical student at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (Muhas) were until yesterday reported to have been admitted over the past one week after they developed cholera-like symptoms.
The head of the Emergency Medicine Department at MNH, Dr Juma Mfinanga, told The Citizen that the hospital was taking precautionary measures, including carrying out seminars to the health workers and other members of staff in an effort to contain the disease.
‘’We are not yet sure if our staff members acquired the disease within or outside the hospital”, said Dr Mfinanga and added that since the outbreak was reported in the city, MNH has received about 20 cases of suspected cholera patients from various parts of Dar es Salaam.
In the neighbourhoods of MNH and Muhas, residents were yesterday seen to be cautious with the food they choose to buy at various food joints. At the campus, this reporter was not offered services after caterers said they were not allowed to sell food.
One medical student at Muhas who was admitted due to excessive diarrhoea was treated for about five days and discharged. The university’s Vice Chancellor, Prof Epatha Kaaya, said the situation at the campus was now under control.
‘’The student is now fine and we are taking the right measures,’’ he told The Citizen in a telephone interview.
Medical staff at the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) in Moshi were yesterday issued with a public health alert following two cases of patients with symptoms of cholera who have now been placed under isolation at the hospital.
KCMC’s Acting Executive Director, Prof Blandina Mmbaga, told The Citizen yesterday that samples of the suspected patients were still being analysed. However, preliminary results showed that the patients were actually suffering from cholera.
“Please be informed that currently there is a cholera outbreak in Moshi. In our institution, we have two patients admitted to the isolation area and confirmed positive by culture [laboratory tests],’’ said a warning issued to the KCMC members of staff.
The World Health Organisation recently said the cholera outbreak has left 13 people dead and 815 others ill in Dar es Salaam, Morogoro, Coast and Iringa regions. With the latest reports, there are fears the disease may spread to more regions in the country.
“To contain the disease we must identify all cases and quickly treat them, but the main focus needs to be preventing the spread of this highly-contagious disease,’’ said the WHO Representative to Tanzania, Dr Rufaro Chatora.
By the end of this week, the cumulative number of patients who reported to various hospitals in Dar es Salaam due to excessive diarrhoea and vomiting had exceeded 1,000, with the Kinnondoni Municipality reporting the highest number of cases.
Municipal authorities say the disease can only be brought under control if residents observe basic sanitation by-laws. The Kinondoni Municipal Health Officer, Mr Mathias Kapizo, told The Citizen that residents who are contracting the bacterial disease are mainly those who come from unhygienic neighbourhoods in the city.