From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) has disclosed that deaths resulting from the outbreak of cholera have risen to 233 from 149 deaths that were recorded on September 25, 2022.
NCDC’s epidemiology report released on Thursday indicated that a total of 2, 187 confirmed cases of cholera were reported from 31 states and 233 deaths were recorded from January 1 to September 25, 2022.
It explained that the cholera outbreak was exacerbated by limited access to clean water and sanitation facilities, open defecation, and poor hygiene practices among the people.
NCDC Director General Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, who signed the report confirmed that the Agency has taken steps to strengthen Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH) in Nigeria, in recognition of the fact that cholera is a waterborne disease, and the risk of transmission is higher in areas that lack adequate sanitation facilities and/or a regular supply of clean water.
“Similarly, unsafe practices such as improper disposal of refuse and open defecation endanger the safety of water used for drinking and personal use. These practices lead to the spread of water-borne diseases such as cholera. So, without proper WASH, Nigeria will continue to be at risk of cholera outbreaks along with associated suffering and deaths,” he said.
He confirmed that the multi-sectoral National Cholera Technical Working Group (TWG) in collaboration with partners has activated support systems for affected states in areas of risk communication, active case search, case management, and WASH interventions.
“NCDC has also supported the affected states in laboratory diagnosis, materials for risk communications, and response guidelines among other things. However, medical interventions alone are not sufficient to address the root causes hence the need for an improvement drive on WASH.
“The NCDC-led multisectoral TWG includes representation from the Federal Ministries of Environment and Water Resources, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other partners,” Dr Adetifa said.
The NCDC boss maintained that the long-term solution for cholera control in Nigeria lies in improved access to safe drinking water, maintenance of proper sanitation especially the discontinuation of open defecation and the practice of hygiene. “We continue to advocate to states government to prioritise action for solutions that ensure access to and use of safe water, basic sanitation, and proper hygiene practices in communities.”
He also urged Nigerians to keep their environments clean, 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.
He warned that in as much as cholera is preventable and treatable, it can be deadly when infected people do not access care immediately, hence he advised Nigerians to visit a health facility immediately if they have sudden onset of profuse watery diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, and weakness.
He promised that NCDC will continue to work with partners to lead the health-sector response to cholera outbreaks, and called for urgent improvement in access to clean water, proper sanitation, and hygiene.