Sunday, July 14, 2024

FG Intensifies War Against Cholera With Testing, Chlorine Distribution

The Federal Government has intensified efforts to combat the recent cholera outbreak by testing food and water sources and distributing chlorine to households in the affected states.

The Minister of State for Environment, Dr Iziaq Salako, who made this known in a statement made available to reporters on Sunday, said the ministry through its Department of Pollution Control and Environmental Health, aims to curb the transmission of cholera by identifying and addressing sources of contamination.

He said preparations are underway to provide critical support to the states hardest hit by the outbreak, including the provision of chlorine solutions and tablets, as well as essential resources for food and water testing and informational materials for community education.

Salako stressed that these measures were pivotal in halting the spread of cholera and ensuring public health safety across the nation.

LN247 reported that no fewer than 40 deaths have been recorded in the current cholera outbreak that has spread to 30 states, including Lagos and Ogun.

The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi, as of Friday, said fatalities from the disease had risen from 21 to 24.

He noted that the situation report, as of June 19, indicated 35 confirmed infections out of 417 suspected cases recorded across 20 Local Government Areas.

On her part, the Ogun State Commissioner for Health, Dr Tomi Coker, said the state recorded one death and 14 cases.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, in its recent report, said from January 1 to June 11, 2024, over 1,141 suspected and over 65 confirmed cases of cholera, resulting in over 30 deaths, had been reported from 96 local government areas in 30 states.

With the six additional deaths in Lagos and one death in Ogun, the fatalities are no fewer than 37.

Speaking in the statement, the Minister of Environment explained that the current efforts by the FG are crucial in identifying areas most at risk and implementing targeted interventions.

He added that extensive environmental sanitation campaigns have been rolled out to promote cleanliness and hygiene practices essential in preventing further transmission.

Describing cholera as a waterborne disease caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae, the minister said it poses a severe public health threat, particularly in regions with inadequate sanitation infrastructure.

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He further said, “Cholera outbreak is a seasonal public health event in Nigeria, occurring annually mostly during the rainy season and often in areas with poor sanitation and hygiene practices. Extreme climate events like flooding are also contributing in multiple ways to drive the outbreak of the disease.

“The World Health Organization has confirmed the global resurgence of cases of cholera classifying the current outbreak a “grade 3 public health emergency”, requiring maximal WHO system-wide response. Nigeria is one of the 14 countries in Africa where the resurgence is being experienced.

“To prevent the spread of cholera, we urge all Nigerians to be more vigilant, imbibe good sanitation and hygiene practices at home and in their workplace and take preventive measures.

“Keeping their environment clean always and disposing of waste properly at designated places.

“Ensuring the use of clean and safe water. Water from suspicious sources should be well boiled or treated by adding one part of chlorine solution to 100 parts of water.

“Avoid locally prepared drinks like kunu, sobo, fura da nono, koko, fruit juice etc except it is certain that the preparation was done in an hygienic and safe manner.

“Wash hands regularly with soap under running water, especially at moments such as after using the toilet, after cleaning a child who has gone to the toilet, before preparing food, before and after eating, and after playing with animals.

“Avoid open defecation and instead use clean and safe toilets. Cook foodstuff well, keeping food covered and eating it hot. Eating in public places including at parties should be done with utmost care. And wash fruits and vegetables with clean and safe water before eating.”

The minister called on state and local governments to support Environmental Health Officers in intensifying sanitation efforts across communities.

“We urge all Commissioners of Environment and Local Government Chairmen to support Environmental Health Officers across the country to step up their sanitation and hygiene activities through enhanced community-led total sanitation in order to break further transmission and spread of the disease.

“We also urge the scale-up of awareness campaigns focusing especially on places where prepared food and drinks are sold like markets, garages, schools, restaurants, stadia, religious, and sporting events. In addition, sub-national governments are urged to strengthen environmental health surveillance in eating premises like “mama put”, cafeterias, restaurants and mobile food vendors.

“We assure the general public that the Federal Ministry of Environment remains committed to ensuring a clean and healthy environment for all Nigerians. This is the only way we can prevent and curtail the incidence of Cholera outbreaks and other sanitation-related diseases.

“Cholera is preventable, and prevention remains better and cheaper than cure. We therefore urge all Nigerians to take these preventive measures seriously and more importantly, keep their environment clean,” he noted.

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