Although we associate certain diseases with undeveloped nations, the truth is that none can be totally immune to water borne diseases. With no country as an exception, four-fifths of diseases on African soil are water borne and has led to the death of many. In 2009, the number of death from diarrhea is two (2) million (according to WHO). Water borne diseases are very deadly, and records children as major victims.

Water borne diseases can be contracted by contact with, or consumption, of contaminated water. In Africa, only one out of seven person have access to hygienic water. It is even alarming that sachet water (locally called “pure water”) is nothing to write home about. In fact, some dug wells provide better alternative to many brands. The situation worsens when we leave towns and cities for villages and rural settlements. Villagers drink from streams and rivers with unprotected source. Traditionalists attribute spirits to water bodies and drink from the same water they bathe and wash clothes in – it is alarming what superstition can do to an average African. The purest form of water available to locals is the collection of downpour of rain. While the risk can reduce with boiling, it is worthy of note that not every harmful pathogens die at 100° Celsius. This disadvantaged class of people are, therefore, forced to cook, bathe, wash, and drink unclean water. Again, you can contract water-borne diseases through contact with infected persons or animals, eating unhygienic food products, etc. Without proper intervention, they can only remain the victim of diarrhea and other water related symptoms

Infection is always accompanied by mild stooling, severe purging, uncontrollable vomiting, crimpy disorder in the stomach, loss of appetite, dehydration and tiredness. The urge to drink water may be due to the diarrhea and the incessant vomiting.

The antibodies are always strong enough to resist the breaking down of the immune system. However, certain cases (e.g. Hepatitis) can become so severe as to threatening patients lives. Water-borne diseases are best prevented by drinking hygienic water, not eating uncooked or contaminated foods and beverages, isolation from (or protection against) infected persons and environment and thorough cooking of food. Like any other disease, treating water-borne diseases before maturation is simple. First-aid for Diarrhea is drinking salted water. If this doesn’t work, then you should see your doctor straightaway.

On a large scale, water borne diseases can best be controlled by provision of good drinking water by African government. This is because the African economy is such that the bulk of the productive resources is owned, processed and controlled by the State welfare system. Public office holders, in the west for instance, do this much. Individuals can also venture into pure water production business, packaging and distribution to homes, offices and institutions. Basic knowledge and information on how to treat common water borne illnesses should be incorporated into the members of the family and workers in an office. 

Both government and private individuals should take concerted efforts to research into solutions for the menace of water borne diseases in Africa.