Food vendors banned in govt move to curb cholera

Friday August 21 2015

Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Said Meck

Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Said Meck Sadick, who banned food vending in Dar es Salaam yesterday as part of efforts to contain cholera in the region. PHOTO | FILE 

By Syriacus Buguzi The Citizen Reporter

Dar es Salaam. The government yesterday banned the selling of food on the streets of Dar es Salaam as part of its efforts to contain the cholera outbreak that has so far killed at least four people in the city.

Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Said Meck Sadick said roadside food vendors were not allowed to operate until further notice, adding that the ban also covered people selling water in plastic bags.

“Roadside eateries are a serious health hazard at this time when we’re grappling with cholera,” he said.

At least 56 people had by midday yesterday been admitted to various hospitals suffering from acute diarrhoea and vomiting.

Ten people were being treated at a special treatment camp in Mburahati after it was confirmed that they had contracted the deadly but easily preventable water-borne disease.

Addressing the media in his office, Mr Sadick said police and public health officers in the city were under instructions to take legal action on anyone who would defy the order. “We’ve also deployed sanitation officers to educate the public on hygiene and how they can guard themselves against cholera. They will be moving from household to household,’’ he said in the presence of Dar es Salaam Special Police Zone Commander Suleiman Kova.

Mr Sadick added that municipal health authorities would oversee the burial of people who had died of cholera, adding that relatives and friends would not be allowed to bury the victims or come in direct contact with their bodies.

“Two people who died of cholera have been buried by municipal heath workers. There is one who died at home and was buried by relatives. This is very dangerous as it can easily spread the disease,’’ Mr Sadick said and urged local government leaders to immediately report to the relevant authorities all suspected cholera cases.

Cholera is a seasonal disease in many vulnerable countries, occurring mostly during rainy seasons, but it has resurfaced in Dar es Salaam during the dry season this time around.

Mr Sadick blamed the latest outbreak in the city on poor hygiene and sanitation in the worst affected areas.

Experts say urban settlements in sprawling cities such as Dar es Salaam are at a high risk of infectious diseases like cholera due to poverty and poor sanitation, underscoring the need for improved infrastructure and planning as the world’s urban population continues to expand.

In a study titled Informal Urban Settlements and Cholera Risk in Dar es Salaam, researchers found that cholera incidence was closely associated with informal housing, increased population density and low income levels.

Cholera claimed its first victim in five years in Dar es Salaam last weekend when a 27-year-old woman died at Mwananyamala Hospital.

Mr Sadick said all people who attended to the patient at home before she was transferred to hospital had contracted the disease and were being treated at the cholera camp in Mburahati.

Another treatment camp has been opened in Mbagala in response to the rising number of cases in the city of about 5 million people.

The camp will help to ease congestion in public health facilities in Kinondoni and Ilala districts.

According to the World Health Organisation, cholera can be controlled effectively by focusing on prevention, preparedness and response.