Tanzania is facing a major cholera outbreak. The total number of cases has gone over 5,000 and dozens of deaths have been reported by the World Health Organization (WHO). This rise in the number of cases has called for an urgent action to stop the disease from spreading to neighboring countries. The UN health agency said, "$2 million (1.8 million euros) are needed to urgently ramp up efforts to control the outbreak, including water trucks, chlorinating water and treatment for the sick."
The WHO said, "From August through Wednesday October 21, 4,922 cases of cholera had been tallied in 12 regions of Tanzania, and 74 deaths."
Dominique Legros, head of WHO's cholera unit, said, "The east African country's largest city Dar es Salaam was most affected with some 3,500 cases. The fact that the disease had reached the city, which is home to more than four million people, sparked great concern. Dar es Salaam's size and its numerous slum areas was making things more complicated in terms of access to water and to build latrines. Cholera, which is transmitted through contaminated drinking water and causes acute diarrhea, most recently spread to an island in the Zanzibar archipelago, which in a matter of days tallied 140 cases."
Cholera is endemic in the region, and Legros warned, "The looming rainy season, with a 'very bad' weather forecast, threatened to push the outbreak beyond Tanzania's borders. We have to really be ready for this and try to control the outbreak as soon as possible in Tanzania. The last time there had been a massive outbreak in eastern Africa in the late 1990s, some 200,000 people had been infected across four countries, including 8,000 deaths."
Legros insisted that efforts must go beyond the emergency response. He said, "What we see each time (there is a cholera outbreak) is a sort of fire brigade approach, and then the outbreak is over and everybody disappears. The water trucking will stop and people will go back to the previous situation where they were taking water from the river and the wells that were contaminated. It is this circle that we must break."