Members of the public have been advised to constantly wash their hands to prevent contracting cholera while in Zimbabwe where the disease is decimating the people, they have been warned to refrain from shaking hands.
With the Christmas holidays upon us half a million Zimbabweans staying in Botswana legally and illegally would be travelling back home. Even though it does not mean that all of them will be at risk of contracting cholera, some people still panic.
Almost 90 percent of the residences in Botswana stay with a Zimbabwean or work with one who will be travelling home this festive season. The question is whether Batswana would be at risk when the Zimbabweans return from Christmas and New Year holidays next month.
The Ministry of Health stated this week that they are not going to mount mobile clinics at the border gates to ensure that those with suspected symptoms get medical attention before getting into the country.
According to the Director of Public Health, Sheenaz El-Halabi, it would be discriminating against the Zimbabweans to check them for the symptoms.
"We have discussed the issue at length of testing people coming from that side of the border, but there are other issues that weighed against that idea," she said.
She stated that they have looked at the incubation period of
She pointed out that the issue of resistance from people to be tested and the fact that the legal border gates are not the only entry points for the Zimbabweans into Botswana. "What we can do is to embark on an educational campaign of what you must do if you suspect that you have the symptoms of cholera," El-Halabi said.
She said while they are advocating for zero importation of cholera within the locals they cannot stop the "importation" of the disease into the country.
Drinking water or eating food contaminated with the cholera bacterium, Vibrio Cholerae, transmits cholera. Raw or under cooked seafood may be a source of infection in areas where cholera is prevalent.
However, the ministry is urging the public to drink clean water from safe sources or boil water from the rivers and streams, to wash hands with clean water and soap before preparing or handling food. Symptoms of cholera include profuse watery diarrhoea, vomitting, thirst and cramps in the stomach, arms or legs.