The rainy season is knocking at our doors and so is the deadly disease - Cholera. Health officials in Rusizi District, Western Province had by the beginning of this week registered 39 cases of the disease; luckily no deaths had been reported by then.
As was reiterated by the Director of Bugarama Health Centre, in Rusizi district, the outbreak was a result of residents consuming contaminated water from Rubyiro River that flows through the district.
Cholera is a disease that, although deadly, can be prevented by adapting to hygienic habits such as washing hands before eating and drinking boiled water.
However, the problem is that the people in the areas affected haven’t internalised such basic behaviour.
The question that should be posed, after health officials contain the current outbreak, is : “What could be changed so that Rwandans don’t have to suffer from the ravages of yearly outbreaks?”
The first and most important step is education. The Ministry of Health in partnership with local leaders and other organisations that promote health should include in their plans behaviour change strategies and mass sensitization campaigns that will promote a healthy population.
This will equip Rwandans with the information they need for prevention – it’s always better than dealing with treatment.
It goes without saying that an unhealthy population is not productive at all. And, if we are to deal with the challenges of poverty especially in the rural areas, the people must be healthy and have high energy levels.
That way, they can wake up every morning get to work and provide for themselves and their families. And for the younger ones, they need to be in school and not in health centres fighting for their lives.
Secondly, communities should jointly work with their local administration and make provision of clean water sources a priority.
For the Rusizi case, the outbreak was reported to have originated from contaminated water from the Rubyiro River. If safer water sources are available, the polluted water from the river would not have been a problem.
It would not make sense to urge the residents to wash their hands if they are still using the same water from contaminated river to do so.