Dar es Salaam. Tanzania said Monday that it plans to deploy a technical team of experts to support Dar es Salaam’s response and conduct an outbreak investigation after the country’s commercial capital reported at least ten cholera cases.
In its Cholera Situation Report released yesterday, the government said that the acute diarrheal illness caused by contaminated water was first reported on April 20, 2023, in Kivule, Ilala, in Dar es Salaam.
As of April 23, 2023, there were ten cholera cases in Dar es Salaam, seven women and three men. No death has been reported. Six of the patients are aged between 15 and 44.
Seven of the patients are residents of Kivule, a town in the Ilala district where the outbreak was first reported on April 15, 2023. The first four cases were from one family living in the same household.
Cases have also been reported in areas like Tabata, Ilala and Buguruni, all working-class neighbourhoods of Dar es Salaam. Eight of the ten patients have been reported to use deep well water as a water source.
Measures that have so far been taken at the regional level to address the outbreak include the distribution of aqua-tabs to households in Kivule, with a total of 40,000 aqua-tabs distributed since yesterday.
Authorities have also been collecting water samples in wells, tape water and other water bodies for testing in collaboration with the Dar es Salaam Water and Sewerage Authority (DAWASA). As of Monday, three samples had been collected.
Other measures include the treatment of all water sources, including schools, households and water kiosks; preparing the Cholera Response Plan; and establishing the Cholera Treatment Centre at the Kivule District Hospital.
A letter has also been written to Dar es Salaam Regional Administrative Secretary on strengthening the multisectoral approach to the outbreak response, including a need for mass chlorination of all water sources and distribution of safe water from DAWASA.
Second outbreak in a year
This is the second known cholera outbreak reported in Tanzania in a period of less than one year. On April 23, 2022, the government reported cholera cases in Uvinza, Kigoma and, Tanganyika, Katavi.
By April 28, 2022, the outbreak had spread to other areas along the lake shores of Lake Tanganyika, with a total of 129 symptomatically suspected cases, of which eight were confirmed.
Like the 2022 outbreak, this year’s cholera outbreak happened during the rainy season, and experts worry that it bears a high potential to spread to other hotspots in Dar es Salaam if not well managed.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), cholera remains a global threat to public health, indicating inequity and a lack of social development.
WHO points out that the long-term solution for cholera control lies in economic development and universal access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation.
Tanzania faces challenges in attaining universal access to safe and clean drinking water.
According to UNICEF, 61 per cent of the population uses at least basic drinking water services, and 26 per cent use safely managed sanitation services.
According to the World Bank, universal access to water supply, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) could reduce Tanzania’s economic losses by $1.9 billion annually by 2030.
In its report released in February, the international lender points out that Tanzania could potentially generate more than $2.4 billion each year in savings on excess medical costs and lost productivity due to inadequate access if it invests in WASH.
On February 28, 2023, the World Bank agreed to finance Tanzania’s sanitation programs as additional financing on top of what the multilateral lender committed on February 28, 2023.
The new financing will see up to 10 million citizens gaining access to improved water supply and nine million to improved sanitation facilities.
Also, up to 2,500 healthcare facilities and over 1,600 primary schools will be provided with adequate sanitation and hygiene services