Tracking the source of cholera

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Patrick in with community members in area 24 spreading awareness on Cholera
© UNICEF Malawi/2018

By Patrick Ken Kalonde, UNICEF Malawi

The day began as usual. I woke up at 6:30 am to get ready for work. An hour or so later, I arrived in Area 24 to join my colleagues, and try to stop the spread of cholera in the area.

Area 24 is a crowded township located on the boundary between Malawi’s capital city, Lilongwe, and the surrounding rural district.

Our task for the day was simple: to locate, photograph and mark on a Google map all the nearby sanitation and hygiene facilities including toilets, water points and dumpsites.

We were accompanied by village headman, Chioko III, who knew the area well and acted as our guide.

As he was leading us through the community, Chioko asked us a lot of questions.

He wanted to understand the importance of the mapping exercise and how it was going to help stop the spread of cholera.

I explained that mapping sanitation and hygiene facilities was one way of trying to uncover some of the conditions that are more likely to put people at risk of contracting cholera.

I also explained that information from the mapping exercise was going to be printed on big maps which would later be given to his community.

The maps would help form action plans to improve the sanitation and hygiene in the area.

He looked impressed and continued to ask more questions. He explained that there was confusion among local people about the real source of cholera.

He said people speculated that open and unprotected water sources had become contaminated and were a source of cholera.

But while most people drank water from these open and unprotected water sources, only a few people were being infected with the disease.

He added that despite the fact that information was being provided about cholera prevention by NGOs, there were still a lot of people in his community who did not fully understand the signs and symptoms of cholera.

And once people got sick, they went to traditional doctors instead of cholera treatment centres.

I promised to bring him responses to his questions, and provide him with more helpful information about cholera, on out next visit.

The day began as usual. I woke up at 6:30 am to get ready for work. An hour or so later, I arrived in Area 24 to join my colleagues, and try to stop the spread of cholera in the area.

Area 24 is a crowded township located on the boundary between Malawi’s capital city, Lilongwe, and the surrounding rural district.

Our task for the day was simple: to locate, photograph and mark on a Google map all the nearby sanitation and hygiene facilities including toilets, water points and dumpsites.

We were accompanied by village headman, Chioko III, who knew the area well and acted as our guide.

As he was leading us through the community, Chioko asked us a lot of questions.

He wanted to understand the importance of the mapping exercise and how it was going to help stop the spread of cholera.

I explained that mapping sanitation and hygiene facilities was one way of trying to uncover some of the conditions that are more likely to put people at risk of contracting cholera.

I also explained that information from the mapping exercise was going to be printed on big maps which would later be given to his community.

The maps would help form action plans to improve the sanitation and hygiene in the area.

He looked impressed and continued to ask more questions. He explained that there was confusion among local people about the real source of cholera.

He said people speculated that open and unprotected water sources had become contaminated and were a source of cholera.

But while most people drank water from these open and unprotected water sources, only a few people were being infected with the disease.

He added that despite the fact that information was being provided about cholera prevention by NGOs, there were still a lot of people in his community who did not fully understand the signs and symptoms of cholera.

And once people got sick, they went to traditional doctors instead of cholera treatment centres.

I promised to bring him responses to his questions, and provide him with more helpful information about cholera, on out next visit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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