• Friday, July 12, 2024
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Alas! Let’s curtail the spread of the cholera outbreak in Nigeria.

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

In Nigeria, cholera has been on the rise since the 1970s, primarily due to extreme poverty and a lack of potable drinking water. The probable reasons are the result of government negligence in embarking on initiatives that will improve the lives of ordinary citizens. The majority of the people in Benue State, Nigeria, are rural dwellers who have little or no access to basic modern facilities; hence, the outbreak of diseases is inevitable.

Cholera was first reported in Nigeria in the 1970s. Since 1990, large outbreaks have been reported in 1991, 1996, 1999, and from 2009 to 2011. Between 2004 and 2016, a total of 154,910 cases and 5,127 deaths were reported (CFR ≈ 3.3 percent). The largest outbreaks were reported in the northern states of the country. In the north, outbreaks often spread from Nigeria to neighbouring countries around Lake Chad (Niger, Chad, and Cameroon) and in the south along the Gulf of Guinea.

Cholera is an infection caused by the bacteria Vibrio cholerae. More often than not, the bacteria is transmitted via contaminated water or food that has come into contact with contaminated water. The most common symptoms of cholera include extensive watery diarrhoea, severe vomiting, nausea, dehydration, loss of electrolytes, and muscle cramps. Severe cases may result in death, especially among children and the elderly.

The bacteria that causes cholera is usually passed out of the body of an infected person via the faeces. These bacteria may then contaminate a common source of drinking water and become widespread among populations. Poor water hygiene and sanitation are therefore important factors in the spread of the disease.

Good hygiene, access to clean drinking water, adequate sanitation facilities, and hand washing before eating and after using the toilet are simple measures taken that have reduced the incidence of cholera worldwide. Travellers are also advised to avoid ice creams and fruit juices offered by street vendors who display their sales goods in the open, where they are exposed to flies and contaminants. In addition, travellers should not eat raw, unwashed vegetables, fruits, salads, or shellfish.

Although cholera can be life-threatening, it is easily prevented and treated. In the United States, because of advanced water and sanitation systems, cholera is not a major threat; however, everyone, especially travellers, should be aware of how the disease is transmitted and what can be done to prevent it. Cholera has been very rare in industrialised nations for the last 100 years; however, the disease is still common today in other parts of the world, including the Indian subcontinent and sub-Saharan Africa.

The National Biosafety Management Agency has called on the general public to exercise caution over the recent cholera outbreak in some states across Nigeria, as the outbreak is now trying to become an epidemic as it is spreading across the state. Just last week or thereabouts, it was recorded in Ogun State, as announced by the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Tomi Coker, and occurred in Ijebu-Igbo, Ijebu North Local Government Area of the state.

Head, Information and Communications for NBMA, Mrs. Gloria Ogbaki, in a statement recently in Abuja, quoted the Director-General, NBMA, Dr. Agnes Asagbra, as saying there was a need for carefulness. “Asagbra said Nigerians must exercise caution as Nigeria records over 30 deaths and 1,141 suspected cases from the disease.

“Cholera, a highly contagious bacterial infection caused by the ingestion of contaminated food or water, has been reported in Bayelsa, Zamfara, Abia, Cross River, Bauchi, Delta, Katsina, Imo, Nasarawa, and Lagos States.’’

Asagbra said the NBMA, in collaboration with health authorities, was actively monitoring the situation and implementing measures to contain the spread of the disease. She also called on Nigerians to imbibe various hygiene practices, such as boiling drinking water or using certified water purification methods. According to her, there is a need to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water, especially before eating or preparing food.

It is now imperative for all Nigerians to be vigilant and adhere to these hygiene practices to protect themselves and their loved ones from cholera. Nigerians should also be on red alert and report any case of cholera to the nearest hospital to avert the spread of the disease.

Òrúnbon, an opinion writer, poet, journalist, and public affairs analyst, writes in from Federal Housing Estate, Olomore, Abeokuta, Ogun State. He can be reached via: [email protected], or 08034493944, or 08029301122.