The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has called on state governments and citizens to take more proactive steps to combat the outbreak of cholera across states in Nigeria.
The agency made the appeal in a report released on Monday, where it stated that there have been 31,425 suspected cases of cholera and 816 deaths reported from 22 states and the FCT, between January 1 and August 1, 2021.
The affected states are Benue, Delta, Zamfara, Gombe, Bayelsa, Kogi, Sokoto, Bauchi, Kano, Kaduna, Plateau, Kebbi, Cross River, Niger, Nasarawa, Jigawa, Yobe, Kwara, Enugu, Adamawa, Katsina, Borno and the FCT.
According to the NCDC, the recent outbreak has been exacerbated by poor access to clean water, open defecation, poor sanitation, and hygiene.
Although the NCDC activated the National Cholera Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) on June 22 and has deployed rapid response teams to support the most affected states, it warned that those actions won’t be enough.
“None of these medical interventions will solve the underlying issues leading to cholera outbreaks,” it warned.
“Cholera is a waterborne disease, and the risk of transmission is higher when there is poor sanitation and disruption of clean water supply.”
Specifically, practices such as the wrong disposal of refuse and practices such as open defecation endanger the safety of water used for drinking and personal use.
“These lead to the spread of water-borne diseases such as cholera. Without proper water, sanitation, and hygiene (WaSH), Nigeria remains at risk of cholera cases and deaths,” the NCDC added.
To address the underlying issues in the long term, there is a need for access to safe drinking water, maintenance of proper sanitation and hygiene.
“We continue to advocate for State Governments to prioritise action for solutions that ensure access to and use of safe water, basic sanitation and good hygiene practices in communities,” it added.
Also, the agency urged Nigerians to “keep their environments clean, only drink or use water that is boiled and stored safely, ensure food is cooked and stored in a clean and safe environment, avoid open defecation and wash their hands regularly with soap and running water”.