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Cholera: NCDC Registers 63 Deaths, Over 2100 Suspected Cases

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) has registered 63 deaths and over 2100 suspected cholera cases in the ongoing epidemic outbreak in the country. 

Director-general, NCDC, Dr. Jide Idris said this during the briefing on the ongoing cholera epidemic in Nigeria, to newsmen on Tuesday in Abuja. 

Science Nigeria reports that cholera is a severe diarrheal illness caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The disease remains a significant health challenge, especially in regions with inadequate sanitation and clean water access. 

Understanding the transmission mechanism of cholera is crucial in curbing its spread and implementing effective prevention measures.

While providing critical updates on the current epidemiological situation and response efforts, Idris said that as of June 30, 2024, Nigeria has recorded 2,102 suspected cholera cases and 63 deaths across 33 states and 122 local government areas, with a case fatality rate of 3.0 per cent 

The NCDC boss said that the top 10 contributing states were  Lagos, Bayelsa, Abia, Zamfara, Bauchi, Katsina, Cross River, Ebonyi, Rivers and Delta.

He said that the National Cholera Multisectoral Emergency Operation Centre (EOC), activated for this crisis, comprises subject matter experts who coordinate the response, ensuring effective resource mobilisation, surveillance, case management and community engagement. 

He said that these measures to enhance diagnostic capacity, treatment, and public awareness.

He said that there were key prevention and response activities initiated by the agency which  include assessments in 22 hotspot states, distribution of medical supplies, technical support, training programmes and public health advisories.

He said that despite the strong political support and efforts, challenges persist, such as open defecation, inadequate toilet facilities, poor water and sanitation, waste management issue, and weak regulatory practices. 

Additionally, he said that the impact of climate change and flooding exacerbates the situation in the country. 

He said that efforts continue to combat the outbreak, with a focus on improving hygiene practices, enforcing public health laws, and enhancing healthcare worker capacity at state and local levels.

“Only 123 (16 per cent) of 774 LGAs in Nigeria are open defecation free. With Jigawa as the only open defecation free state in Nigeria. More than 48 million Nigerians practice open defecation.

“Inadequate toilet facilities and existing ones even in many government facilities not well maintained. Inadequate Safe water and poor sanitation: 

“11 per cent of schools, six per cent of health facilities, four per cent of motor parks and markets, have access to basic water, sanitation and hygiene services.

Poor waste management practices. Poor Food, environmental and personal hygiene practices. Capacity gap among health care workers at the state and LGA levels. 

“Weak regulation on construction of soak away and bore holes (some sunk close to water source and bore holes sunk in wrong location). 

“Inadequate Implementation and enforcement of public nuisance law and other relevant public health laws. Inadequate capacity at State level – delayed disease reporting and response action. Capacity gap among health care workers at the state and LGA levels. 

“Poor regulation of food vendor and commercial water supply on hygiene. Weak regulation on sighting of boreholes and well, which are close to sewage or toilets pathways. 

“Low knowledge and practice of basic hygiene such as hand washing and effect of climate change and flood,” he explained. 

Meanwhile, on the Minister of State for Environment, Dr Iziaq Salako has said that the ongoing Cholera outbreak in the country comes as a stark reminder that when the country fails to prioritise proper environmental sanitation, the public health would be jeopardised and economy would be adversely affected.

“Nigeria is experiencing the adverse impact of climate change as evidenced by the shift in seasons, rising sea levels and more frequent extreme weather events like floods, droughts and heat waves with undeniable health consequences,” Salako said. 

According to him, the combination of climate change and poor sanitation, without doubt, poses a double jeopardy to the health of the planet and all creatures on it.

Recall that public health experts also stressed on the need for comprehensive strategies to combat Nigeria’s ongoing cholera outbreak. Despite preparedness plans, challenges persist.

Cholera, a virulent but treatable disease, causes 2.9 million cases and 95,000 deaths annually worldwide. Proper management keeps mortality under one percent, but it can rise to 60 percent if untreated.

Historically, cholera has shaped public health, from John Snow’s 1854 London outbreak response to the development of life-saving oral rehydration therapy by Hemendra Nath Chatterjee in 1953.

The experts also called for improved sanitation, access to safe water, proper hygiene, and better living conditions to address this recurrent and predictable loss of lives. They advocated classifying cholera as a neglected tropical disease. The ongoing cholera outbreak in Nigeria serves as a grim reminder of the critical importance of prioritising proper environmental sanitation to safeguard public health and protect the economy. The impact of climate change is increasingly evident through shifts in seasons, rising sea levels, and more frequent extreme weather events like floods, droughts, and heat waves, all of which have significant health implications.

The combination of climate change and poor sanitation presents a double threat to the well-being of not just the population but also the planet as a whole. Despite efforts to address the current cholera epidemic, challenges persist, underscoring the need for comprehensive strategies to combat the disease effectively.

Cholera, though virulent, is a treatable disease that accounts for millions of cases and thousands of deaths worldwide each year. With proper management, mortality rates can be kept below one percent; however, untreated cases can see mortality rates spike up to 60 per cent.

Throughout history, cholera has played a pivotal role in shaping public health practices, from John Snow’s iconic response to the 1854 London outbreak to the pioneering work of Hemendra Nath Chatterjee in developing life-saving oral rehydration therapy in 1953.

Health experts emphasise the urgent need for improved sanitation, access to safe water, adherence to proper hygiene practices, and the creation of better living conditions to tackle the recurring and predictable loss of lives due to cholera. They advocate for the classification of cholera as a neglected tropical disease and stress the significance of collective efforts to combat this formidable health challenge.

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