Andile Tshuma, Chronicle Reporter
THE rainfall season is a season of productivity and multiplication, may it bring fruitfulness to your endeavours.
We celebrate the opening up of the heavens which have rekindled hope for a good cropping season and better fortunes for farmers and the entire food systems chain.
Unfortunately, the rainy season, which is so crucial to our existence, does come with a downside.
Already there are reports of people being struck by lightning in some parts of the country. We all need to stay safe during storms, life is precious. There are reports of hailstorms with some families having their homes destroyed and schools having roofs blown away.
The rainy season can also take a toll on health, particularly in children as it brings humidity, mosquitoes and seasonal diseases.
Heavy storms can damage water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure and cause a surge in breeding grounds for disease vectors, increasing the threat of diseases such as typhoid, cholera, malaria, and dengue, and endangering communities’ health for months to come.
Bulawayo has been battling a diarrhoea outbreak since the month of July, which has been linked to unsafe water sources as the city is on a 72-hour water shedding regime, with some people resorting to unsafe alternative sources of water. It is worrying what would happen with the rains upon us.
Hopefully, the city’s health department will be able to contain the gastro-intestinal disease.
The common flu occurs frequently during this time of wet weather, although it is often associated with cold weather. Influenza manifests as runny nose, blocked nose or sneezing, fever or headache.
It can be one or more of these symptoms. It is due to a viral infection, which spreads as a droplet infection. Objects touched by many people such as phones, door handles and remote controls, also become sources of infection due to being contaminated. However, medical experts say it is a self-subsiding condition and does not need treatment as such.
Heavy rains with possible flooding can make commuting more difficult. If you have the chance to avoid hours when congestion is at its peak, do so. Avoid the hassle and the possibility of getting stuck in a downpour, leave earlier in the morning, especially if you are using public transport.
Those prone to allergies can catch colds due to change in weather and vegetation. Asthma attacks can be precipitated and aggravated in this weather. Skin diseases such as eczema can also be aggravated, particularly in babies.
The Health and Child Care Ministry this week reported that more than 150 people have succumbed to malaria this year.
Wet weather followed by warm sunny days provides the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. People in malaria-prone areas such as Binga district should therefore be on the lookout and get rid of stagnant water around them. Besides the malaria factor, mosquitoes are just a nuisance during this season, you can hardly sleep.
As rains wash flowing sewage from burst manholes and dirt into water bodies, water reservoirs become contaminated. Use of such untreated water could cause water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea, typhoid and cholera. It is therefore important to maintain the highest levels of hygiene during this time.
Diarrhoea, typhoid and cholera are all food and water-borne diseases. These can be prevented by drinking water only from safe sources. Or if unsure, boil water for five minutes or use chlorine, water guard or a few drops of bleach to treat the water. Cook food well and always have it covered to prevent contamination and always wash hands before preparing or handling food and after using the toilet.
If waste is not managed properly during the rainy season, it may result in devastating effects which include water pollution which subsequently leads to water-borne diseases such as cholera, typhoid and dysentery. Mismanagement of municipal waste can result in the blockage of storm drains which in turn cause flash floods especially in urban areas.
During this time of the year, the market will be flooded with various types of foodstuffs such as amazhanje, cooked or roasted green mealies and mangoes.
These foodstuffs have a great potential of littering the environment if not handled with care. Extra effort needs to be taken to ensure that the environment remains clean.
The rainy season coincides with the festive season and during this period extra waste is generated as a result of the procurements that are related to the festive season.
For those with children it is best to bath babies during the hottest time of the day and ensure that they eat warm meals, particularly if the wet weather is accompanied by chills. Children love to play in the rain, discourage them from the practice and try to keep them indoors when it rains.
During such times, some communities are more at risk than others, due to socioeconomic inequalities.
Social and economic inequities, as well as individual characteristics, place some individuals and communities at greater risk than others for the effects of flooding and storms from climate change.
It is important to try and build stronger structures with available resources and to erect lightning conductors in rural areas, as well as to follow all risk communication from the Civil Protection Unit.
May the rainy season revive your spirits and bring you hope and fruitful seasons.
Article Source: The Chronicle