• The perennial outbreaks of cholera warn us that worse can happen.
• The cost of combating such diseases is often higher than preventive measures.
In the recent past, several estates in Nairobi’s Eastleigh, Baba Dogo and Mukuru neighbourhoods have protested poor sanitation.
Sadly, no county or national government official has bothered to respond, yet public health is a grave concern globally.
The perennial outbreaks of cholera warn us that worse can happen. The cost of combating such diseases is often higher than preventive measures.
We should stop and reflect on what is going on globally at the moment. Since the World Health Organization declared coronavirus a global health pandemic, cities of millions of people have been deserted.
The outbreak has so far killed thousands of people and is likely to kill more.
Tourism is gone and the wider impact of the virus has immensely impacted local enterprises and is affecting global supply chains.
Perhaps the best preventive mechanism to minimise the risk is making hygiene part of the school curricula at all levels. One proven method of slowing down the spread of coronavirus is to wash hands, something that we should be doing every time we plan to eat.
The end game is to inculcate a culture and sometimes conduct simulations of what to do in the event we have such an emergency.
Other interventions include leadership that can influence the right public behaviour. Without such leadership, planning for the city, collecting solid waste and minding the welfare of the people cannot be in place.
This is where we are at the moment in Nairobi. It is what the city residents are complaining about. Their fears about disease outbreak are real, considering the perennial water shortage.
Unfortunately, virtually nothing is being done to solve any of the urban problems in Kenya. Shanties are expanding, congestion is growing and mounds of garbage pile up in many estates. Stagnant water dots every gulley and creates a conducive environment to breed new diseases.
It is cheaper now to wade off disease by investing in the necessary infrastructure and building the right organisational culture than waiting to react to an epidemic that we have helped create.
Kevin Ochieng- Nairobi