From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has activated its multi-sectoral National Cholera Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), co-led by the Federal Ministries of Environment and Water Resources, due to the link between cholera and water, sanitation and hygiene.
This was, perhaps, necessitated by the recent increase in cholera cases recorded across the country with Plateau, Bauchi, Gombe, Kano, Zamfara, Bayelsa and Kaduna states most affected.
NCDC explained that cholera, a preventable and treatable epidemic-prone disease, is transmitted by eating or drinking contaminated food or water, and cases tend to rise during the rainy season.
It announced, on Tuesday, in a statement, that, since the beginning of 2021, 10, 833 suspected cholera cases have been reported across the states, with 112 confirmed cases and 289 deaths, and there was an increasing number of cholera cases reported across states in the last one month hence the activation of the EOC.
It explained that the National EOC was activated to support states ensure a rapid, coordinated and effective response to the outbreak, which could be done through the deployment of National Rapid Response Teams (RRT) to support responses at the state level, provision of medical and laboratory supplies, scale-up of risk communications amongst other activities.
In addition, NCDC said the resources developed as part of Nigeria’s COVID-19 response have been used to strengthen the response to the cholera outbreak, including the digitalisation of the national surveillance system, establishment of laboratories and treatment centres, training of health workers among others.
It maintained that the risk of death from cholera is often higher when treatment is delayed, stressing the importance of the visit to a health facility if symptoms such as watery diarrhoea and vomiting present in a patient.
The NCDC urged Nigerians to always boil and store drinking water in a clean and safe container; prepare, cook and store food safely; wash their hands frequently with soap under clean running water to prevent infectious diseases including cholera, especially after defecation and before handling food or eating.
It also asked Nigerians to avoid open defecation and indiscriminate refuse dumping which contribute to the spread of cholera and, most importantly, visit a health facility immediately if symptoms such as watery diarrhoea are presented.
It also asked healthcare workers to have a high index of suspicion for cholera, and maintain universal care precautions at all times.