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Monday, July 15, 2024

WHO intervenes as Nigeria records cholera outbreak in prison

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Cases of severe gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the stomach and intestines confirmed to be caused by cholera, have been detected at the Kirikiri medium security prison in Lagos State.

The state government confirmed in a statement on Sunday that it had detected 25 cases of cholera-induced gastroenteritis, indicating a possible spread of the infectious disease in the state’s prison facilities.

This discovery contradicts the earlier position of the National Correctional Service (NCoS) spokesperson, Abubakar Umar, who had declared that the prisons were cholera-free just four days ago.

He said routine hygiene measures implemented in all prisons across the country have kept the disease from spreading outside their walls.

He said these facilities are staffed by health professionals who constantly educate staff and inmates on basic hygiene mechanisms, including handwashing, clean environment and proper food handling.

“Thanks to these measures, we have not recorded any outbreaks or epidemics of cholera in our detention centres.”

However, in the statement shared on Sunday, the Director of Public Affairs at the state Ministry of Health, Tunbosun Ogunbawo, said officials have begun inspecting facilities across the state and correcting existing sanitation and water problems where necessary.

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He said urgent medical and environmental interventions have been implemented at all facilities, which is improving the situation.

Donation from WHO

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO), as part of efforts to help the country tackle the cholera outbreak, donated 10,000 doses of pharmaceuticals to health facilities in Lagos correctional facilities.

The statement reads in part: “We were able to supply Kirikiri Intermediate Prison with intravenous fluids, infection prevention and other medical supplies.

“In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) has donated 10,000 doses of pharmaceutical products that have been delivered to the prison to support prison health centers with prevention strategies for some 3,200 inmates if necessary.”

In the past 72 hours, the state has not recorded any new cholera-related deaths as the government continues to intensify measures to eliminate transmission, Ogunbawo said.

However, he noted that the state is experiencing ongoing low-grade community transmission as new daily cases and deaths decline.

“But the interventions are yielding results, as residents adhered to public health information and advice on safety measures and the need to report promptly to health facilities when they developed symptoms,” she added.

WHO has also donated more than 30 cholera kits to the Lagos State Ministry of Health for affected communities.

The organization said each treatment kit provides enough medical supplies to treat at least hundreds of patients in a community.

Cholera outbreak

In June, health authorities declared a cholera outbreak in Lagos after recording 436 suspected cases of the disease.

Six days later, the state recorded more than 500 suspected cases and 43 confirmed cases, with a fatality rate of 5.4 percent among reported suspected cases.

On the origin of the epidemic, Mr Ogunbawo said the wave has been linked to unregulated street drinks and a contaminated water supply.

He explained that many of the samples taken from popular street drinks purchased by undercover environmental agents from the Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) and the Ministry of Health in the affected areas confirmed the presence of the cholera bacteria.

“None of the containers had NAFDAC accreditation numbers, indicating that they are informal production units, small yards and rural homes,” he said.

Mr Ogunbanwo further noted: “It has been difficult to identify the precise location of the manufacturing and the Environmental Health Directorate is planning to seal any unregulated manufacturing and make arrests of anyone involved in the manufacturing or distribution of beverages without NAFDAC numbers.”

In the past six months, more than 1,000 suspected cases, 65 confirmed cases and 30 deaths have been reported in 96 local governments in 30 states across the country.

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