Population boom spells critical health hazards


IT has come to light that Tanzania has drawn comprehensive plans for better future management of the current unprecedented levels of urban population growth in a quest to ensure greater productivity, higher efficiency and control of open spaces. This initiative, which comes rather belatedly, is indeed noble and heartfelt.

While figures are hard to come by, population growth in most urban centres is booming putting a critical strain to available resources, healthcare and even governance. The city of Dar es Salaam is in the lead in this kink.

More people stream into the city daily than in any other urban centre. Of course, some residents move out of Dar es Salaam and resettle elsewhere but these are, by far, too few.

So, the city of Dar es Salaam keeps expanding giving town planners a nagging headache. Green belts and open spaces set aside for future development are often invaded by incoming settlers and, of course, local residents.

Some build homes on unplanned locations becoming squatters who, invariably, live in squalid conditions. Quite often, what these squatters miss most is clean tap water. Most of Dar es Salaam is actually occupied by squatters who live in unsanitary conditions.

Here, diseases associated with filthy conditions prevail afflicting the poor, who live despicably horrible conditions often without good latrines, toilets or lavatories. Swarms of houseflies roam at will in this filthy territory spreading dangerous diseases.

Unsanitary conditions are often the source of numerous fast killer diseases such as cholera, dysentery and typhoid which, invariably, erupt where communities do not have good latrines, toilets or lavatories.

Cholera, typhoid fever and hepatitis A are caused by bacteria, and are among the most common diarrheal diseases. Other illnesses, such as dysentery, are caused by parasites that live in water contaminated by the feces of sick individuals and animal droppings.

All these diseases are dreaded fast killers. The state has often said it is keen on improving sanitation in households and public places particularly in schools and health facilities – a noble crusade, indeed. But implementation appears to be slow or even inadequate.

It would be remiss not to mention expressly that sanitation efforts will only come to fruition if clean water is provided. Tanzania has numerous water projects in various stages of implementation but some have stalled. These projects should be accomplished.

Poor farmers and wage earners in most urban centres become less productive due to illness. Consequently, health systems are overwhelmed, productivity on the part of ailing workers is impaired and the national economy suffers. Yes, the state must stop the rot.

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