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Monday, July 15, 2024

Death toll rises to 63 as 10 Nigerian states lead infection chart

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The Nigerian government said Tuesday that the death toll from the cholera outbreak has risen to 63 with 2,102 suspected cases.

The Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Jide Idris, disclosed this while giving the infectious disease situation report, even as he said cases have now been recorded in 122 local government areas in 33 states out of the country’s 36 and the Federal Capital Territory.

Mr Idris added that about 90 per cent of the cases were recorded in 10 states of the federation, seven of them in the southern region.

“Of the top 10 states, Lagos, Bayelsa, Abia, Zamfara, Bauchi, Katsina, Cross River, Ebonyi, Rivers and Delta, which contribute about 90 per cent of the cases, seven of them are southern states,” Idris said.

He attributed the outbreak to the ingestion of contaminated food and water, though he expressed the country’s ability to curb further spread despite the challenges posed by the culture of open defecation.

Activation of the Emergency Operations Center

Earlier, Mr Idris had said his agency had already activated the National Multi-Sectoral Cholera Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) to coordinate what he described as a robust response to cholera cases across the country.

He said the agency activated the EOC after conducting a dynamic risk assessment.

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He said: “In response to the rapid increase in cholera cases, experts in the field conducted a dynamic risk assessment on the cholera outbreak situation in Nigeria last week.

“Subject matter experts were drawn from ministries (health, environment, agriculture, water, etc.), departments, agencies, stakeholders and relevant key partners. The outcome of the risk assessment placed the country in a “high risk” situation of increased risk of cholera transmission and impact.”

Challenges identified

Addressing the President, the Director-General highlighted some of the challenges faced in the fight against cholera, including open defecation, inadequate sanitation and poor sanitation.

He said the government has demonstrated strong political will to control the outbreak despite these challenges, with an inter-ministerial cabinet committee set up to support response efforts.

He said: “Only 123 (16 percent) of the 774 local government areas in Nigeria are open defecation free, and Jigawa is the only open defecation free state in Nigeria – over 48 million Nigerians practice open defecation. Existing sanitation facilities are inadequate and not well maintained, even in many government facilities.

“Insufficient drinking water and poor sanitation: 11 percent of schools, 6 percent of health centers and 4 percent of vehicle fleets and markets have no access to basic water, sanitation and hygiene services.”

He also listed other challenges including waste management practices, food, environmental and personal hygiene practices, and the capacity gap between health workers at the state and LGA levels.

“Poor regulation of the construction of soakaways and boreholes (some of which are dug close to a water source and others in the wrong place), as well as inadequate application and enforcement of public nuisance and other relevant public health laws, are other challenges,” he added.

Mr. Idris further noted that inadequate capacity at the state level leads to delays in disease reporting and response at the state and local levels.

“Furthermore, poor regulation of food vendors and commercial water supplies compromises hygiene standards, while weak regulation allows wells to be located near sewerage routes or toilets,” he added.

He stressed that poor knowledge and practice of basic hygiene measures, such as handwashing, and the aggravating effects of climate change and flooding, are hampering efforts to contain the outbreak.

Global resurgence of cholera

In June, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced a resurgence of cholera cases in countries in Africa, East Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean region.

Data provided by the organisation show that between January and May around 195,000 cases of cholera were recorded in the five regions.

Africa ranked second as the region with the highest number of cholera cases, with 92,789 cases in 14 countries. The Eastern Mediterranean region followed closely behind with the highest number of cases, more than 98,000 cases in seven countries.

In terms of recorded deaths, Africa ranks first, with 1,698 deaths. In contrast, the Eastern Mediterranean region recorded 256 deaths.

The data, the WHO said, combine suspected and confirmed cases of the disease.

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