Cholera Outbreak: Federal Gov’t Supports States With Water, Testing Kits, Others

The Federal Ministry of Environment has expressed deep concern over the cholera outbreak in several Nigerian states, which has claimed lives and affected many communities.

In response to the outbreak of the disease, Minister of State for Environment, Dr. Iziaq Adekunle Salako, announced that the ministry has taken immediate steps to halt further transmission of the disease.

These measures, according to Salako, include provision of water and food testing to identify sources of infection, environmental sanitation campaigns, and household water chlorination.

According to a recent situation report from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), there have been 1,159 suspected cases, 65 confirmed cases, and 30 deaths across 30 states.

The most affected states contributing 90% of the total cases include Bayelsa, Lagos, Zamfara, Abia, Bauchi, Cross River, Ebonyi, Delta, and Katsina.

“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,” the minister said in a statement on Sunday.

The Ministry of Environment has initiated a nationwide sensitisation campaign on cholera prevention and control measures to prevent further spread.

This campaign aims to strengthen collaboration with health authorities and other stakeholders in line with the Federal Government’s one health approach.

Cholera, driven by poor sanitation and hygiene, is an acute diarrheal infection caused by ingesting contaminated food or water with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae.

Cholera has remained a global threat to public health, affecting both children and adults, and can be fatal if not treated promptly.

The disease is extremely virulent, with symptoms manifesting between 12 hours and 5 days associated with early symptoms including frequent watery stools, nausea, and vomiting.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has also confirmed the global resurgence of cholera, classifying the current outbreak as a “grade 3 public health emergency,” necessitating a maximal WHO system-wide response.

Nigeria is among 14 other African countries experiencing this resurgence.

To prevent the spread of cholera, “we urge all Nigerians to be more vigilant, adopt good sanitation and hygiene practices at home and in their workplace, and take preventive measures such as keeping their environment clean, disposing of waste properly, and ensuring the use of clean and safe water,” Salako emphasised.

“Water from suspicious sources should be well boiled or treated by adding one part of chlorine solution to 100 parts of water.”

Salako also advised Nigerians to avoid locally prepared drinks like kunu, sobo, fura da nono, koko, and fruit juice unless they are certain that the preparation was done hygienically.

He further called for proper hygiene, including regular handwashing with soap under running water, especially after using the toilet, after cleaning a child who has used the toilet, before preparing food, before and after eating, and after playing with animals.

“Avoid open defecation and instead use clean and safe toilets; cook foodstuff well, keep food covered, and eat it hot. Eating in public places, including at parties, should be done with utmost care; wash fruits and vegetables with clean and safe water before eating,” he added.

The minister also urged Commissioners of Environment and local government chairmen to support environmental health officers nationwide to enhance community-led total sanitation, thereby breaking further transmission and spread of the disease.

“We also urge the scale-up of awareness campaigns, especially in places where prepared food and drinks are sold, such as markets, garages, schools, restaurants, stadia, and religious and sporting events.

Additionally, sub-national governments are urged to strengthen environmental health surveillance in eating premises like ‘mama put’, cafeterias, restaurants, and mobile food vendors.”

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