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Monday, July 9, 2012

ETCHE can make a difference

Submitted by Michaela Sholes

Parts of Ghana, including our own Eastern region, have been affected over the past few months with outbreaks of Cholera. This disease, transmitted by contaminated water, is particularly devastating in areas where sanitation is a challenge or where there are few water sources. Its sudden onset of heavy diarrhoea (described as "rice-water") can quickly result in life-threatening dehydration, especially when combined with vomiting. Transmission can also occur if stool particles from a person infected with cholera contaminates water sources used by others. Children are at a higher risk for complications from cholera. Cholera infections can usually be managed successfully through rehydration efforts and basic antibiotics, as long as the disease is reported early to a health facility.
While MoM has not specifically addressed cholera in our health education messages, sanitation and clean water have been a major topic for some time now and many of the principles are the same. We emphasize

-Thorough, frequent, and appropriate hand-washing practices using soap and water:\

-Before and after eating

-After using the toilet

-Heat your food thoroughly before eating

-Store your food properly and heat food thoroughly when reheating

-All water used for drinking and cooking should be purified through boiling or methods such as SODIS

With particular relation to cholera, however, additional efforts should be used to prevent transmission of the disease:

-Ensure effective disposal and treatment of any fecal waste from cholera patients and any contaminated materials to prevent further transmission

-Any materials that come into contact with cholera patients should be treated by washing them thoroughly in hot water and chlorine bleach if possible.

-Wear gloves when touching cholera patients or their clothing/bedding and make sure to thoroughly clean and disinfect hands which have come into contact

As always, MoM encourages community members to quickly report any incidence of cholera to the nearest health facility, to ensure prompt management of the disease.

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