LETTER from HELEN HOLLEMAN, River Rescue coordinator
For months, I’ve been asking, ‘Why do we even bother about Covid when Makhanda watercourses probably house cholera, dysentery, brucellosis, and a multitude of other waterborne diseases?” (Yes, I know Covid is airborne!)
On Wednesday, 16 February, The Daily Maverick reported outbreaks of enteric fever (typhoid) in several provinces, including four cases in the Eastern Cape. This is a waterborne disease transmitted by faecal-oral contact.
Typhoid can be a killer. It occurs in places with no adequate sanitation and a contaminated water supply – which is most places in Makhanda.
I am deeply concerned by this because it puts at risk anyone we ask to work with us – and puts us at risk, too. It puts our entire programme at risk.
The work we are doing is absolutely necessary, and I am willing to continue, whatever the risk to me, but I certainly can’t expect anyone else to take the same risk.
That said, children play in the rivers all the time; dogs, cattle, donkeys drink the water and defecate all over the place. Typhoid is transmitted by faecal-oral contact … think about it.
WHAT TO DO? Put as much pressure as possible on our local and provincial Departments of Health to TEST ALL the watercourses in Makhanda and publish the results IMMEDIATELY. Then, to clean up the mess.
If any of you know of other ways of stirring our authorities into rapid action to protect the town’s health, please let me know.
We need your help – your anger, your ideas, your action. Please.