THE recent unfortunate outbreak of typhoid and cholera is quite worrying since many of our urban areas face serious water and sanitation challenges. The issue of hygiene is one that many urban dwellers seem not to take seriously until an outbreak such as the one we are having right now rears its ugly head.
Elections have come and gone and it is now time to settle down to the real business of service delivery, for both central and local Governments. Water provision and waste disposal are some of the serious issues that need urgent attention.
With our health infrastructure already under a lot of strain due to years of underfunding, it would be good for the greater part of the population to practise good hygiene while local authorities also provide safe and clean water so that we deal with avoidable infections such as cholera and typhoid.
Boreholes were drilled in many urban areas as part of plans of dealing with an emergency, where tap water supplies became erratic. It would seem, however, that some urban areas have been permanently in a state of emergency. Any emergency that is not dealt with satisfactorily and with the urgency that it deserves soon turns into a disaster.
We believe we are witnessing the problems of failing to arrest a deteriorating situation in urban areas especially on issues of water provision and waste disposal. While this is not the time to be finger pointing, we worry that some politicians appear only interested in positions and ensuring their political interests are secure instead of cracking the whip to ensure that service provision is the catchword at all local authorities.
We urge central Government and local Government to work together to attend to the emergency brought about by the water borne infections. We also urge for calm among populations in the affected areas since many rely on vending and part of the measures taken by authorities may interfere with their source of livelihood. However, it cannot be business as usual since these measures are taken to protect everyone, including the very people selling wares on the streets.
Our plea to all that deal in foodstuffs, regardless of whether they are in a cholera affected area or not, is to ensure that they practise good hygiene. As for the councils, they must respond to burst sewage pipes on time so that we minimise contamination of underground water, a development that is making the fight against the water borne diseases more difficult.
To those without any other source of water apart from boreholes, health experts encourage us to boil our water before use. The hand shake should be suspended for health reasons until the infections are brought under control.
United we can beat the infections. It all starts with a commitment to practise good hygiene at an individual level and encouraging our children to do the same. We surely cannot afford to get into the rainy season in such kind of a situation since the wet weather could make our battle against water borne diseases harder. Let us act now.