EditorialTHEWILL Editorial: Cholera on The Prowl Again

THEWILL Editorial: Cholera on The Prowl Again

June 23, (THEWILL) – It is sad that Cholera is still stalking the country, especially at this time that most Nigerians are at their wits end over the grinding poverty, hunger and hardship in the land.

Facing one of the worst cost of living crises in decades, Nigerians can easily become ill-adjusted because of the ravaging cholera.

According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, NCDC, the increasing cases of the disease nationwide has claimed 30 deaths, 141 suspected cases and 65 confirmed reported cases.

Director-General of the Centre, Dr Jide Idris, said the cases, which started between January and June 11, 2024, were reported from 96 local government areas in 30 states. Of this number, 10 states are critically affected. The critical states affected by the outbreak are Abia, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Imo, Katsina, Lagos, Nasarawa and Zamfara.

In fact, as of Friday, Lagos State alone has accounted for 24 deaths and 417 cases, according to the Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi. The state noted that it is infected with “the highly aggressive and contagious strain,” of Cholera.

All things considered, the outbreak of the disease is a sad commentary on the health management system in the country. A country with a broken health system, wherein doctors and nurses wait patiently to complete their studies and then emigrate abroad for practice, should not gloat over the outbreak of a contagious disease like Cholera.

With the intensification of the rainy season during which the cases would trend, things are going to get worse before they get better.

A look into causes of cholera infection as listed by the NCDC shows how the appalling health system and insanitary habits among the people has become a major culprit.

According to DG Idris, people of all ages living in places with limited access to clean water are at risk.

He explained that disease can be prevented by ensuring access to safe, potable drinking water, proper sanitation and waste disposal, as well as appropriate hygiene, including regular handwashing.

Idris advised Nigerians to reduce the risk of cholera by ensuring that water is boiled and stored in a clean, covered container before drinking.

He said people should practice good personal hygiene by washing their hands frequently with soap under clean running water, ensuring that food is well cooked before consumption, avoiding open defecation, indiscriminate refuse dumping, ensuring proper disposal of waste and frequent clearing of sewage, among others.

He explained that cholera is a food- and water-borne disease, caused by the ingestion of the organism Vibrio cholera in contaminated water and food, adding that water is usually contaminated by the faeces of infected individuals.

The talk about lack of potable drinking water, improper waste disposal, open defecation, frequent cleaning of sewage and drainages, indiscriminate dumping of refuse sounds familiar.

With one year left in Nigeria’s Road Map, launched in 2018, to achieve an open-defecation free country in 2025, the numbers tell a different, frightening picture.

According to WASHNORM reports of UNICEF, approximately 48 million Nigerians still engage in open defecation and only 8 per cent of the population practice clean handwashing.

Furthermore, 23 per cent of Nigerians lack access to basic water supply services and only 10 per cent have access to a combination of basic water, sanitation, and hygiene services.

Years of official neglect in providing basic infrastructure in almost all sectors of the economy, coupled with manpower shortage, as it currently obtains in the health sector, has contributed in no small measure to afflictions like the current Cholera disease.

It is not too late for government at all levels to begin to reverse this ugly trend by taking appropriate measures to commit to remedial policy implementation.

As for the current Cholera cases, we urge the relevant agencies to embark on public enlightenment through churches and mosques, markets, schools, parks, and other public places. Correct information is as key in fighting contagious diseases as the application of correct diagnosis and treatment.

The 10 states that are listed with critical cases of outbreak of the disease should liaise properly with the multi-sectoral National Cholera Technical Working Group, led by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) and comprising the Federal Ministries of Environment and Water Resources, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), the World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), for the required support in these trying times.

 

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