Still on cholera outbreak

Nigerians have been advised to keep their environment clean and improve on their personal hygiene to stop the spread of cholera disease ravaging the country. This piece of advice was given by a renowned physician, Dr. Oluseyi Anjorin.

Dr. Anjorin explained that cholera is a bacteria infection that causes acute diarrhea and characterised by rice water stool, adding that cholera can be found in 50 developing countries due to socio-economic reasons and the risk is higher in urban slums and Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps because of lack of pipe borne water and proper sewage system. He stated that cholera had been a major problem in the country, saying the last time, it affected about 21 states and now it is affecting about 30 states due to economic downturn.

He revealed that over 1,500 cases had been reported, saying its symptoms includes, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, vomiting, and restlessness among others, stressing that the infection could be fatal, if not properly treated. He urged Nigerians to improve on their personal and environmental hygiene, adding that this could be achieved by proper hand washing before and after eating, and after using the toilet, engaging in proper feacal and sewage disposal, adequate washing of their vegetables and ensuring that their foods are well cooked. Dr. Anjorin, however, reiterated that government must provide pipe borne water, ensure that every household have proper latrine and ensure public health policy.

THE fresh cholera outbreak in the country has caused anxiety. The National Biosafety Management Agency has called on the public to exercise extreme caution following reports of deaths and over 1,000 suspected cases across several states. The disease is a highly-contagious bacterial infection caused by ingesting contaminated food or water. The bacteria thrives in environments where sanitation is poor, and clean drinking water is scarce while symptoms of cholera include severe diarrhoea, vomiting, and rapid dehydration, which can lead to death if not attended to on time.

Cholera afflicts the poor in underdeveloped countries the most such as Nigeria, where there is a periodic outbreak of cholera largely due to poverty and poor hygienic practices. There are a number of tips that our people can find useful. Firstly, we must ensure that all drinking water is boiled or purified using certified methods, washing hands thoroughly with soap and water regularly, food should be cooked thoroughly and consumed while hot, keeping the environment clean and disposing of waste properly are also essential while the government should ensure that all communities have access to clean and safe drinking water by setting up emergency water purification stations in affected areas and improving existing water infrastructure.

Furthermore, collaboration with international health organisations can provide more technical expertise and logistical support to contain the outbreak, Our people should citizens stay informed, and shun rumor mongering. Governments at all levels should be serious and clamp down on this by ensuring that there is severe punishment for those who defecate in public even though, the government and non-governmental organisations should erect public toilet facilities with running water and ensure there is security for the users to reduce infections.

Recall that Nigerians were charged to prioritise the quality of their health and always remember that a healthy life is a productive life. This was the position of a Public Health Officer, Sanitarian Taiwo Akinwumi. According to him, “a healthy life is a life that has hope”, adding that Nigerians should take their lives seriously and have it in mind that whatever they do would directly or indirectly affect their families, communities and as well affect the planet. Akinwumi reiterated that rising cost of living was impacting on human health and “there is increasing rate of depression, suicide and diseases because people could not afford the necessity of life”.

The health officer noted that poor health habit, unhealthy behaviour and domestic violence had been on the increase due to high cost of living, saying this indirectly affects mental health, adding that sanitation “is about life and it is crucial in maintaining good environmental, personal and food hygiene”. He added that government “needs to empower farmers by providing necessary farming inputs at a subsidised rate in order to tackle food insecurity and ensure bumper harvest” in the country. To reflect on the severity of what we have on our hands, the Global Task Force on Cholera Control, informed that the disease had been eradicated in Europe and North America for more than 100 years.

Similarly, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) has disclosed that 53 deaths and 1,528 suspected cases of cholera have been recorded across 31 states in 107 local government areas with a case fatality rate of 3.5% since the beginning of 2024! The Director-General of NCDC, Dr. Jide Idris, had disclosed the various ongoing prevention and response efforts at the national and sub-national levels. Therefore, what we need to curb the spread of this disease are regular awareness programme, good hygiene, and timely provision of information to appropriate authorities as well as emergency support, among others.