• Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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BusinessDay

Cholera: Water safety threatened by improper refuse disposal, open defecation –NCDC

Alas! Let’s curtail the spread of the cholera outbreak in Nigeria.

Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) has expressed concern over the growing threat to water safety in the country, which triggers outbreaks of water-borne diseases, including cholera.

Jide Idris, the director-general of NCDC, expressed worry in an interview on Sunday in Abuja, stressing that improper refuse disposal and open defecation practices are endangering the quality of water sources used for drinking and personal use.

The centre announced an outbreak of cholera, a severe diarrheal illness caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae, which has spread to more than 30 states of the federation.

The centre also reports that as of June 24, 2024, there were 1,528 suspected cholera cases, 65 confirmed cases and 53 deaths across 107 local government areas in 31 states, reflecting a case fatality rate of 3.5 per cent since the beginning of the year.

The most affected states include Bayelsa, Zamfara, Abia, Cross River, Bauchi, Delta, Katsina, Imo, Nasarawa and Lagos.

The NCDC boss, therefore, urged Nigerians to adopt safe sanitation practices and called on state governments to enforce stricter waste management regulations, saying “unsafe practices lead to contamination of water bodies.

“We must take responsibility to ensure the safety of our water. Proper waste disposal and elimination of open defecation are crucial in this direction.

Read also: How drinking untreated, unsafe water aid cholera outbreak in Nigeria.

“There is also the need for public education and awareness about the importance of hygiene and proper sanitation practices amid rising concerns about the spread of diseases such as cholera and typhoid, which thrive in unsanitary conditions.”

He explained that as the rainy season sets in, the risk of water contamination may be heightened, hence the need for communities to take immediate action.

“We need collective efforts to protect our water sources and ensure the health and well-being of all Nigerians,” he said.

He listed measures taken to curtail the disease including efforts made by the multi-sectoral National Cholera Technical Working Group, led by NCDC, comprising federal ministries of environment and water resources, and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA).

He said “World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and other partners have been providing support to affected states.

“The support includes risk communication, active case search, laboratory diagnosis, case management, provision of response commodities, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) interventions, and dissemination of cholera awareness jingles in both English and local languages.

“President Bola Tinubu had also directed the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to establish a committee to oversee the cholera emergency operation centre operated by the NCDC.

“This committee will include members from the ministries of health, finance, water resources, environment, youth, aviation and education.

“The initiative aims to reduce open defecation with support from state governments.”

Idris said the NCDC activated the emergency operation centre to address the outbreak.

He, however, stressed the urgent need for improved sanitation practices and access to clean water to combat the outbreak.

Meanwhile, Lagos State accounts for the highest number of cholera deaths with 29, followed by Rivers with eight, Abia and Delta with four each, Katsina with three, Bayelsa with two, while Kano, Nasarawa and Cross River recorded one each.

The alarming trend highlights the urgent need for a coordinated response to prevent further escalation of the crisis, especially in affected states.