Cholera kills 233 in Nigeria
Woman and child in hospital. Photo credit: EU mission

Cholera has killed 233 people in 31 states of Nigeria from January to September 25, even as the country has recorded 2,187 confirmed cases of the disease.

This is according to the public health advisory published by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control on its website on Thursday.

According to the advisory titled, ‘Stop Cholera: Strengthening Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Nigeria,’ the outbreak of cholera had been exacerbated by limited access to clean water and sanitation facilities, open defecation, and poor hygiene practices.

Cholera is a water-borne disease characterised by the sudden onset of profuse watery diarrhoea, which can lead to sudden death because of the rapid rate of dehydration if not managed on time.

The advisory read in part, “The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control is leading the national response to an ongoing outbreak of cholera in affected states in Nigeria. A total of 2,187 confirmed cases of cholera have been reported from 31 states and 233 deaths were recorded from January 1 to September 25, 2022.

“Following a recent increase in the number of cholera cases, the multi-sectoral National Cholera Technical Working Group in collaboration with partners has been supporting affected states in risk communication, active case search, case management, water, sanitation, and hygiene interventions. The NCDC-led multi-sectoral TWG includes representation from the Federal Ministries of Environment and Water Resources, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, the World Health Organisation, the United Nations Children’s Fund and other partners.

“The outbreak has been exacerbated by limited access to clean water and sanitation facilities, open defecation, and poor hygiene practices. In response, NCDC and its partners have supported the affected states with commodities for case management and laboratory diagnosis, materials for risk communications, and response guidelines among other things. However, medical interventions alone are not sufficient to address the root causes -water, sanitation, and hygiene – of cholera outbreaks.”

The centre added that unsafe practices such as improper disposal of refuse and open defecation endangered the safety of water used for drinking and personal use, leading to the spread of water-borne diseases such as cholera.

“The long-term solution for cholera control lies in access to safe drinking water, maintenance of proper sanitation (especially the discontinuation of open defecation) and the practice of hygiene. We will continue to ask state governments to prioritise action for solutions that ensure access to and use of safe water, basic sanitation, and proper hygiene practices in communities,” it noted.

The NCDC, however, 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.

“Cholera is preventable and treatable; however, it can be deadly when infected people do not access care immediately. Nigerians are advised to visit a health facility immediately if they have sudden onset of profuse watery diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, and weakness.

“As the NCDC continues to work with partners to lead the health-sector response to cholera outbreaks, we call for an urgent improvement in access to clean water, proper sanitation, and hygiene,” the centre stated.

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