Nigeria Takes Active Measures To Stop Spread Of Cholera Outbreak

unclean environment fuels spread of cholera disease

By Juliet Ukanwosu

The Federal Government has expressed deep concern over the recent cholera outbreak in some states which has tragically claimed many lives.

Consequently, the Federal Ministry of Environment, through the Department of Pollution Control and Environmental Health, and the Environmental Health Officers Registration Council of Nigeria has begun activities to break further transmission of the deadly disease.

According to recent situation report from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), a total number of 1159 suspected cases, 65 confirmed cases and 30 deaths have been recorded across 30 States. The data showed Lagos, Zamfara, Bayelsa Abia, Bauchi, Cross River, Ebonyi, Delta and Katsina as the most affected states, contributing 90% of the total cases.

Accordingly, a statement signed by Dr. Iziaq Salako, Minister of State for Environment, a combination of efforts such as water and food testing to identify sources of infection, environmental sanitation campaigns and household water chlorination, are ongoing as part of efforts to check the spread of the disease.

The Minister added that arrangements are also being made to support states most affected by the outbreak with chlorine solution/tablets, water and food testing resources, IEC materials and technical advisory in order to effectively arrest the situation.

While using the opportunity to sensitise the general public on cholera preventive and control measures to avert further spread, the ministry informed that Cholera, a poor sanitation and poor hygiene driven disease, is an acute diarrhoea infection caused by ingestion of unwholesome food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae.

The statement further described cholera as “a global threat to public health, affecting both children and adults and can kill if untreated promptly. It is an extremely virulent disease that takes between 12 hours and 5 days for symptoms to manifest. The common early symptoms are frequent watery stool that is usually milky white in colour, nausea and vomiting,” and advised anyone experiencing symptoms of cholera to seek medical attention immediately.

It added that Cholera outbreak is a seasonal public health event in Nigeria, occurring annually mostly during the rainy season and often in areas with poor sanitation and hygiene practices, noting that extreme climate events like flooding are also contributing in multiple ways to drive the outbreak of the disease.

The statement further informed that The World Health Organization (WHO), has confirmed the global resurgence of cases of cholera classifying the current outbreak a “grade 3 public health emergency”, requiring maximal WHO system wide response, adding that Nigeria is one of the 14 countries in Africa where the resurgence is being experienced.

To prevent the spread of cholera, the ministry urged Nigerians to be more vigilant, imbibe good sanitation and hygiene practices at home and in their workplace and take preventive measures such as keeping a clean environment, use of clean and safe water, adding that water from suspicious sources should be well boiled or treated by adding one part of chlorine solution to 100 parts of water.

Other preventive measures include avoiding locally prepared drinks like kunu, zobo, fura da nono etc, eating in public places, open defecation, maintain regular hand washing with soap under running water, ensuring food are well cooked, covered and eaten hot, washing fruits and vegetables with clean and safe water before eating.

The Minister further called on all Commissioners of Environment and Local Government Chairmen to support Environmental Health Officers across the country to step up their sanitation and hygiene activities through enhanced community-led total sanitation in order to break further transmission and spread of the disease.

“We also urge the scale-up of awareness campaigns focusing especially on places where prepared food and drinks are sold like markets, garages, schools, restaurants, stadia, religious, and sporting events. In addition, sub-national governments are urged to strengthen environmental health surveillance in eating premises like “mama put”, cafeterias, restaurants and mobile food vendors,” Salako stated, while extending the ministry’s condolence to families who have lost loved ones, and stand in solidarity with those affected by the outbreak of Cholera across the country.



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