The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention says it has taken measures to strengthen the country’s prevention, control and management of cholera outbreaks.
The Director-General, NCDC, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, made this known in Abuja, during the National Cholera Plan Review Meeting.
Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal illness caused by Vibrio cholerae bacteria.
People can get sick when they swallow food or water contaminated with cholera bacteria. The infection is often mild or without symptoms, but can sometimes be severe and life-threatening.
In Nigeria, cholera is an endemic and seasonal disease, occurring annually mostly during the rainy season and more often in areas with poor sanitation.
According to the World Health Organisation, at least 24 countries continue to report cholera cases.
Dr. Adetifa said that so far, a total of 1629 suspected cases including 48 deaths have been reported from 13 States as of April 30.
He described the country’s epidemiological situation as unacceptable.
The DG attributed the situation to “unsafe practices such as improper disposal of refuse and public defecation, which make water unsafe for drinking and personal use.”
He advised that to prevent the spread of cholera, people should boil water before drinking, use water from safe sources, store water in properly covered containers and stop open defecation.
Dr. Adetifa said that in line with its mandate, the NCDC has continued to lead in preparedness, detection, and response to public health emergencies.
He noted that cholera is preventable and as such, all stakeholders should adopt necessary measures to totally stop its spread.
“In 2022, Nigeria recorded about 600 deaths as a result of cholera, with children between the age group of 5 -14 years having the highest burden of deaths.
“Given this, the NCDC-led National Technical Working Group is collaborating with other ministries, agencies, and partners to validate Nigeria’s National Strategic Plan of Action for Cholera Control.
“The National Strategic Plan of Action for Cholera Control was developed in June 2022 and further revised in March 2023,” he said.
He, therefore, said that the validation workshop was for stakeholders to review and agree on the outcomes of previous workshops, during which progress, performance, and gaps, were discussed.
Dr. Adetifa also noted that it further provided options for coordination between sectors and on how to strengthen preparedness for cholera control by 2027.
The NCDC boss said that political will was also extremely important in fighting cholera.
This, he said would require coordinated efforts from government leaders and officials to implement effective prevention and control measures.
“This includes investing in clean water and sanitation infrastructure, promoting hygiene practices, providing access to vaccines and treatment, and conducting surveillance and monitoring of cholera outbreaks.
“Without political will, these measures may not be prioritized or adequately funded, leading to the continued spread of the disease and increased morbidity and mortality.
“Additionally, political will is necessary to address the underlying social and economic factors that contribute to cholera, such as poverty and inequality,” he said.
NAN reports that the 13 states with suspected cholera cases in 2023 are Abia, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Cross River, Ebonyi, Kano, Katsina, Niger, Ondo, Osun, Sokoto and Zamfara.
In the reporting month, five states reported 98 suspected cases – Abia (11), Bayelsa (6), Cross River(3), Katsina (24), Niger (2) and Zamfara (1).
Also in the reporting week, two states have reported suspected cases: Bayelsa (1) and Katsina (14).
Of the suspected cases since the beginning of the year, those most affected were in the five years age group, followed by those aged 45 years in aggregate of both males and females.
So far, 53 per cent of the suspected cases are males and 47 per cent females.
Seven states – Cross River (718 cases), Ebonyi (227 cases), Zamfara (177 cases), Bayelsa (160), Abia (118 cases), Katsina (115 cases), and Niger (94 cases) account for 99% of the cumulative cases.
Three out of fifteen LGAs in the country, Obubra in Cross River (515), Gusau in Zamfara (177), and Ikwo LGA in Ebonyi (146) reported 51 per cent of the cases recorded in 2023.