Cholera is still a major health problem to most people in Tanzania. Urbanization and lack of access to clean safe water and sanitation are some of the main reasons that poses a big challenge in the fight against waterborne diseases.
According to WHO country office, from 15 August 2015 through 7 January 2018, 33 421 cases including 542 deaths (case fatality rate = 1.62%) have been reported across all 26 regions of the United Republic of Tanzania (Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar). Tanzania mainland has reported 86% of the total cases in this outbreak. Children under five years old accounted for 11.4% of cases.
Since the beginning of the outbreak over 7000 specimens have been tested for cholera and 47% were positive for Vibrio cholerae by culture.
From 1 January 2017 through 31 December, 4985 cases including 99 deaths have been reported in Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar. The number of cases as well as geographical spread of cholera has markedly reduced compared to the two previous years. During the same period in 2016, 14 547 cases and 225 deaths were reported for Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar. In 2017, the highest number of cases was reported from Mbeya Region during week 31 (week starting 31 July 2017) and from Songwe Region during week 43 (week starting 23 October 2017). Between weeks 49-52, Uvinza, Songwe and Nyasa districts reported the highest number of cases.
The resurgence of cases in Kigoma, Manyara, Dodoma, Mbeya and Dar es Salaam regions, and Ruvuma and Rukwa regions reporting cases for the first time since the beginning of the outbreak reflects the persisting risk for a cholera upsurge in many other regions. Zanzibar has reported no cases since the last case was reported on 11 July 2017, however high population movement to and from Tanzania Mainland still poses a risk of spread to Zanzibar.
Our WaterGuard program improves low-income families in most affected areas with access to quality and affordable home based water treatment solution that enable them to treat their water at the point of use. WaterGuard liquid was first introduced in Tanzania in the year 2002 with the support of Irish Aid in collaboration with Ministry of Health and Ministry of Water. Three years later, in the year 2005, WaterGuard became available in tablet form, which is more user-friendly due to longer shelf-life.
PSI has managed to put WaterGuard off donor dependence and now operates the product off a sustainable platforms. The major customers are individuals, corporates, government institutions and UN agencies such as UNICEF and WHO. The year 2015 and 2016 PSI recorded its biggest ever achievements distributing over nine (9) million and over 12 million tablets of WaterGuard respectively. It is with no surprise that the increase distribution and use of WaterGuard is corresponding with reduced Cholera cases in Tanzania as indicated by WHO data above.
WaterGuard tablets are available in most pharmacies in Tanzania, shops and kiosks. The product is available at a recommended retail price of Tsh. 75/ per tablet.