Africa’s Lake Victoria named major waterborne disease breeding site

Dodoma, Feb 16 (IANS) Africa’s largest fresh water source, Lake Victoria, has been named as a major breeding ground for waterborne diseases, putting millions of people at risk, officials warned on Monday.

People living on Lake Victoria’s islands are at risk of cholera, typhoid, and dysentery as most of them drink water directly from the second largest freshwater lake in the world in terms of surface area. The lake is shared by three East African nations –Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.

Elias Kwesi, Tanzania’s director of disasters and emergency in the ministry of health, community development, gender, elders and children, said that the lake is contaminated with human waste as most sewerage systems from small and major towns are directed into it, hampering the fight against waterborne diseases.

Kwesi said despite the fact that the lake is contaminated with human waste but more people are still using water from the lake, putting them at risk of waterborne diseases such as cholera on regular basis.

The official urged people not to drink water directly from the lake and instead they should develop a habit of drinking boiled water.

“We have advised Mwanza Urban Water and Sanitation Authority (MWAUWASA) to increase the amount of chlorine in water by 0.8 mgs per litre as well as the use of water guard in every household,” the doctor said.

Mwanza chief physician Onesmo Rwakyendela cited a report from World Health Organisation (WHO) and other experts that water from the lake is not safe for human consumption.

“This is because the lake is contaminated with human waste as sometimes toilet chambers are opened and waste is discharged into the lake and this is common during rainfall season,” he said.

Cholera outbreak was reported for the first time in Ukelewe district’s Urugwa Island on September 16, 2015 and until now it’s the leading district for having 410 cases with 15 death cases by February 11, this year.

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