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Cholera in Nigeria: Centre calls for strengthening water, sanitation and hygiene

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says that the outbreak of cholera across states in Nigeria has been exacerbated…

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says that the outbreak of cholera across states in Nigeria has been exacerbated by poor access to clean water, open defecation, poor sanitation, and hygiene.The NCDC, which is leading the national response to an outbreak of cholera across states in Nigeria said in a statement on Monday in Abuja that between the 1st of January and 1st of August 2021, 31,425 suspected cases of cholera, 311 confirmed cases and 816 deaths had been reported from 22 states and Abuja.

The centre gave the affected states as Benue, Delta, Zamfara, Gombe, Bayelsa, Kogi, Sokoto, Bauchi, Kano, Kaduna, Plateau, Kebbi, Cross River, Niger, Nasarawa, Jigawa, Yobe, Kwara, Enugu, Adamawa, Katsina, Borno and Abuja.

The statement explained that following an increase in the number of cholera cases, the National Cholera Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) was activated on the 22nd of June 2021.

The EOC, which is hosted at the NCDC, includes representation from the Federal Ministries of Environment and Water Resources, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA, World Health Organization (WHO) and partners.

It explained that the National Cholera EOC has led the deployment of Rapid Response Teams to support the most affected states -– Benue, Kano, Kaduna, Zamfara, Bauchi and Plateau States. Additionally, NCDC and its partners have provided states with commodities for case management and laboratory diagnosis, materials for risk communications, response guidelines among other support.

It disclosed that a reactive oral cholera vaccine, OCV, campaign led by NPHCDA was conducted in Bauchi LGA, Bauchi State from 24th to 28th July 2021.

According to the statement, none of these medical interventions will solve the underlying issues leading to cholera outbreaks since Cholera is a waterborne disease, and the risk of transmission is higher when there is poor sanitation and disruption of clean water supply. The wrong disposal of refuse and practices such as open defecation endanger the safety of water used for drinking and personal use.

“These lead to the spread of water-borne diseases such as cholera. Without proper water, sanitation, and hygiene (WaSH), Nigeria remains at risk of cholera cases and deaths.

“The long-term solution for cholera control lies in access to safe drinking water, maintenance of proper sanitation and hygiene. We continue to advocate to State Governments to prioritise action for solutions that ensure access to and use of safe water, basic sanitation and good hygiene practices in communities.

“Additionally, we urge Nigerians to keep their environments clean, only drink or use water that is boiled and stored safely, ensure food is cooked and stored in a clean and safe environment, avoid open defecation and wash their hands regularly with soap and running water.

“Cholera is preventable and treatable; however, it can be deadly when people who are infected do not access care immediately. Nigerians are advised to visit a health facility immediately, if they have sudden onset of profuse watery diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and weakness.

“As the NCDC continues to work with partners to lead the health-sector response to cholera outbreaks, we call for an urgent improvement in access to clean water, proper sanitation and hygiene,” the statement added.

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