Wednesday 23 May 2012

Water-borne diseases: Kenya’s curse of the rains

©2006 Walter Siegmund

After the dry spell of January - March we now have the long rains season. Despite the excitement that come with rain, such seasons also presents us with health challenges. Some of the medical conditions that you are more likely to suffer from in during this period are called water-borne diseases, and include cholera, typhoid fever, gastroenteritis, jaundice and other forms of diarrhoea.

Water-borne diseases usually result when some microorganisms, which are usually present in human and animal feces, find their way into your body system. This may happen when you drink water from a contaminated source, or more often, from contaminated hands, clothes, food, utensils etc. Such diseases can easily be spread and can sometimes be dangerous. To prevent such, high standards of cleanliness need to be maintained.

Effects of the diseases
If you are infected with any of these diseases, you may develop a severe illness, sometimes leading to death. Such infections may also lower your body’s ability to fight off other infections. Your intestines may also be affected such that your body may not be able to absorb nutrients well, sometimes resulting in malnutrition. When you are sick, you are likely to be less productive, including children missing classes due to illness. Such preventable causes of illnesses lead to increased health expenditures at the individual, household, societal and national level.

As a simple guide, the following is a list of things that you should do or not do during this season to avoid these diseases

What you should do:
i) Wash hands thoroughly with soap before preparing or consuming food, and after visiting the toilet.
ii) Boil drinking water if suspected to be from a source that is likely to be contaminated; or use chlorine (marketed locally as ‘waterguard’ to disinfect all drinking water)
iii) Use toilets for both short and long calls
iv) Avoid living in flooded or flood prone areas during the rainy season
v) All victims who start passing loose stool should take lots of fluid to correct the fluid loss. If the condition worsens they should be taken to a health center for proper diagnosis and management.

What you should avoid:
i) Consuming foodstuffs from roadside vendors
ii) Exposing food to flies
iii) Half cooked meals
iv) Avoid self medicating or buying over-the-counter medications. Always take medicine after advice from a qualified healthcare professional.

Author: Dr. Allan M. Makenzi

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1 comment:

  1. Nice piece-timely.If the policy makers invested in enlightening the people on such issues,without a doubt there shall be drastic cut on the expenditure of taxpayers money on preventable ailments.