There is an outbreak of Cholera in South Africa’s most populous province, Gauteng. The first death of the outbreak was recorded in May 2023 in Hammanskraal location. Cholera has since spread to more provinces like Free State, Limpopo Province and Northern Cape and is expected to spread to more areas.
The main cause of the outbreak is a result of a long time problem of poor quality of water in many parts of the country. The problem has got worse each year and more water-borne diseases are expected with time.
Water Problem In South Africa
South Africa’s water quality has been deteriorating and posing risk to health for the past 28 years. This is due to many factors which some of them will be listed here.
1. Corruption in Municipalities
Many municipalities in South Africa, which have the responsibility to take care of waste and supply communities with clean water are dysfunctional due to corruption and lack of accountability. As a result there is sewage spillage in the streets of many urban areas and water purification system produce poor quality water. This then leads to people drinking contaminated water.
Many diseases can spread easily in places with poor sanitation. With time, more and communities will contract these water-borne diseases.
2. Increasing Poverty
South Africa is currently the World’s Most Unequal Country. This means the gap between the rich and the poor has grown bigger. Poor population is forced to live in overcrowded informal settlements near urban areas, this is where municipality managers care less about water and sanitation services, leading to spread of cholera and any other disease that spread through fecal-oral route e.g. Peptic Ulcer disease.
Other people in rural areas still depend on water from the streams where they also dispose litter and animals drink. Some still defecate in open areas and that waste is washed into rivers when it rains.
3. Climate change
The global problem of climate change plays a role in poor quality of water that people are exposed to. There is increase in floods in some parts of South Africa, causing sewage spillage and contamination of drinking water with feces. Drought is also forcing people to buy water, which is quite expensive.
Solution to the Problem
There are many ways in which the government can deal with this outbreak. Some solutions involve preventing the spread and containing the current outbreak, then preventing future outbreaks:
- Public awareness campaigns: public needs to be informed about ways to prevent spread of Cholera such as boiling water before drinking and thoroughly cooking food. It should be announced in public broadcast platforms like TV and radio as well as social media platforms.
- Workshops for health care workers: all health care workers should be able to recognize early signs of cholera and know the basic management such as adequate hydration.
- Involvement of government municipalities: The municipalities should find ways to provide clean and safe water as a long term solution for preventing outbreaks like cholera.
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