- Deaths from cholera in Tanzania's semiautonomous island of Zanzibar have reached 15, up from eight recorded two weeks ago, health officials said.
The director of information policies in the Ministry of Health and Social welfare, Dr Omar Suleiman, said on Tuesday in Stone Town, the capital of Zanzibar, that cholera continued to be a threat, especially in rural areas.
"We have already lost 15 people, and more than 300 have suffered from severe diarrhoea and vomiting," he said. "These records are just from our health centres, but they may be more people who have suffered without going to the hospital."
He added: "We still have new cholera cases in Unguja and Pemba islands, therefore, people must be serious in observing hygiene including using boiled water for drinking."
The islands of Pemba and Unguja make up Zanzibar, with a population of 981,754, according to a 2002 census.
The Zanzibari government launched a taskforce in March to help set strategies to control cholera, which has killed at least 100 people in the past eight years.
The main objective of taskforce, whose members comprise health specialists, regional administrators and civic leaders, is to use the available facilities to control cholera. These include sensitisation and advocacy through the media; and to alert the government and advice on how to deal with any outbreak.
Cholera outbreaks in Zanzibar often occur during the rainy season. Use of contaminated water and lack of toilets - resulting in people relieving themselves in the bush - are some of the factors contributing to the spread of the disease.
Suleiman said the ministry had set up special health camps in Unguja and Pemba to cater for the cholera victims. The ministry had also asked the media to inform the public on the need to keep their environment clean and drink clean water.
In March, Health and Social Welfare Minister Sultani Mugheiry banned sale of fresh juice on the streets as a measure to control cholera.
Announcing the ban, Mugheiry had said: "Unfortunately, most people have been using unsafe water, drinking or eating in filthy places, despite repeated calls to observe health precautions such as boiling water."
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