The recent outbreak of cholera in some parts of the country, some weeks after the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) announced it had contained it, shows that the war against the disease is not yet over. It appears also that the measures put in place so far to contain the disease are not adequate enough.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), the disease claimed 97 lives in Yobe State while 989 cases of suspected cholera were recorded in five local government areas of the state. We recall that the Yobe incident occurred two weeks after that of Borno State, which claimed 32 lives and recorded 2,137 cases of suspected cholera.
The UNOCHA Head of Communication, Samantha Newton, revealed that there were 3,126 recorded cases of acute watery diarrhea in Borno and Yobe states in September. The disease has affected 168 local government areas in 17 states across the country such as Adamawa, Anambra, Bauchi, Borno, Ebonyi, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna and Kano. Others include Katsina, Kogi, Nasarawa, Niger, Plateau, Yobe, Sokoto and Zamfara. It has also affected some parts of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
Recent figures from NCDC revealed that about 434 Nigerians died from the disease and 23, 893 suspected cases were recorded between January and August 2018. Medical experts say that cholera is an infectious disease that causes severe watery diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration and even death if untreated. The disease is caused by eating food or drinking water contaminated with a bacterium called vibrio cholerae.
Common sources of cholera infection include municipal water supplies, ice made from municipal water, foods and drinks sold by street vendors, vegetable grown with water containing human wastes, raw or uncooked fish and seafood caught in water polluted with sewage. As a result of modern sewage and water treatment, the disease has been eliminated in industrialised countries.
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But cholera is still a serious health problem in some parts of the world, especially in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America. About 150,000 cases of the disease outbreaks are reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO) each year. The risk of cholera epidemic is said to be highest when poverty, war or natural disasters force people to live in crowded conditions that lack adequate sanitation.
The symptoms of the disease include acute diarrhea, nausea and vomiting and dehydration. If left untreated, the disease can be fatal in a matter of hours, even in previously healthy people. We decry the rising cases of cholera and the attendant loss of lives. We also note that the continuous spread of the disease despite assurances of its containment should serve as a clarion call on the nation’s health authorities to check the menace.
Therefore, we call on government at all levels to mobilise resources and treat the current spread of the disease as a national emergency. There is the need to provide potable water to all Nigerians as well as improvement on public hygiene. More emphasis should be placed on adequate shelter and good sanitation. Since the disease occurs every year, government should make elaborate preparations to control it whenever it occurs.
It is sad that we lose so many lives to the disease every year. Good enough, the disease is preventable and curable. The Federal Government should put accent on preventing the disease. The public must be enlightened on the causes of the disease, its symptoms and preventive measures.
Those down with the disease should be given prompt treatment in available health facilities. Let all the stakeholders in the health sector work in concert to stop the rampaging disease. Members of the public are enjoined to avoid drinking water and eating food contaminated with vibrio cholerae organisms.