Cholera is a highly contagious diseases that can kill within hours if left untreated. Researchers have estimated that each year there are 1.3 to 4.0 million cases of cholera and 21 000 to 143 000 deaths worldwide due to cholera (World Health Organization fact sheet, 2016). Cholera is caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae.

Although cholera kills 21000 to 143000 people, it can easily be prevented through observing general hygiene measures such as hand washing with clean water and soap before touching any food or after using the toilet, drinking treated/boiled water, washing vegetables and fruits with clean water before consumption and proper disposal of human waste. Food hygiene and safety can be managed and there are policies to guide it, but it is often overlooked.

The effects of humanitarian crisis such as disruption of water and sanitation systems, or the displacement of populations to inadequate and overcrowded camps can increase the risk of cholera transmission, should the bacteria be present or introduced. In other cases, outbreaks have been reported to emerge from weddings, schools or other social gatherings where food is prepared for mass consumption. This demonstrate that most caterers and food providers are not aware food risks on their premises and in their workplaces. Ultimately the duty to protect consumers from food risks and to ensure that the food they consume is safe begins with the food service providers, majority of whom do not manage food hygiene and safety operational risk.

We cannot afford to ignore foodborne illness because it does not only cause discomfort and loss of working time but can lead to lifelong health complication as well as loss of life. Unfortunately disease like cholera affects everyone despite of age, race or social class, food safety and hygiene is therefore, everyone’s responsibility.

Health education campaigns, adapted to local culture and beliefs, should promote the adoption of appropriate hygiene practices such as hand-washing with soap, safe preparation and storage of food and safe disposal of human waste. Further, awareness trainings and capacity building should be organized to inform food handlers and the community at large about the potential risks, symptoms, prevention and control measures of cholera and other foodborne illness.

As a leading advocate of health and sanitation, IRES has organized a five days course on food safety and hygiene management that aims at informing, educating and improving preparedness, response, and prevention of foodborne diseases within both the governing and industry workforce. The training offers evident food safety know-how such as the use of globally recognized food safety management system called the hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) which helps food handlers to foresee and remove food hazards during and after production to ensure food safety and safeguard consumer’s well-being. For more information visit: and secure your chance to gain necessary skills and credentials needed to manage and reduce food risks.

By: Joyce Muthoni

Learning Advisor-IRES

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