Dar es Salaam suffering serious cholera outbreak

WHO calls for urgent action to halt spread of disease.

Tanzania is facing a major cholera outbreak, with nearly 5,000 cases recorded since August, with almost 70 per cent of them in Dar es Salaam, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The UN health agency said that between August and late October there have been 4,922 cholera cases in 12 of Tanzania's 30 regions, and 74 deaths. 3,500 of the reported cases have been in Dar es Salaam.

The agency says that $2 million is needed to curb the outbreak, including the provision of water trucks, water chlorination facilities and medical care. However WHO insists that the response must have a more long-term approach, stopping people from returning to contaminated water sources after the outbreak.

Cholera, which is spread by contaminated water and food, and causes severe diarrhoea, is triggered by poor water suppy as well as inadequate drainage and sewerage infrastructure.

WHO says that the presence of cholera in Dar es Salaam, a city of more than four million inhabitants, is of particular concern for logistical reasons, given its size and numerous slum areas.

Urgent action is now required to stop the disease spreading to neighbouring states, according to WHO, particularly during the upcoming rainy season. The last time the east African region suffered a major cholera outbreak was in the late 1990s, when around 200,000 people were infected, resulting in 8,000 deaths.