The rate at which cholera spreads in Nigeria has been a great concern to the Government at all levels due to the percentage of people who die from the reported cases. Cholera was put to a stop in Industrialised countries by water and sewage treatment decades ago but still remain as a major cause of death in many African countries.
Sub-Saharan Africa bears the brunt of many cholera cases and outbreaks that has the potential of spreading across other countries. The reported cases of Cholera remain prominent in African than elsewhere and some persons refers to it as an African disease with over 95 percent cases of its outbreak emanating from Africa.
The disease is an acute diarrhoeal disease that can kill within hours if left untreated. Researchers have estimated that each year there are 1.3 to 4.0 million cases of cholera, and 21,000 to 143.000 deaths worldwide due to cholera. According to World Health Organisation, Cholera is an extremely virulent disease that can cause severe acute watery diarrhoea. It takes between 12 hours and 5 days for a person to show symptoms after ingesting contaminated food and water. It affects both children and adult and can kill within hours if not properly treated.
Around 19th century, Cholera spread became something of eminent concern; when it spread from its original reservoir in the Ganges delta in India. The epidemic killed millions of people across all continents and reached Africa in 1971 and the Americas in 1991. Cholera is now an epidemic in many countries especially in Africa.
Nigeria has been a breeding ground for the spread of Cholera. Especially, reports from the North-East where people were forced to leave their homes and seek asylum at camps of Internally Displaced Persons [IDPs] because of the insurgency of Boko Haram that has made the region unsafe for both lives and properties. The disease has affected about 2000 people mostly at the internally displaced persons camps scattered all over Borno State.
The outbreak was combatted with Cholera vaccination exercise in the state, the World Health Organisation Representative in Nigeria, Dr. Wondi Alemu, said the plan to combat Cholera has been put to place since May before the commencement of the rainy season that could serve as a drive to the spread of the deadly disease.
He said. “WHO has been supportive right from the beginning in confirmation of cholera cases and after by enforcing plans road mapped by the State Government, Ministry of health to make ready medicine kit where they were needed. Once Cholera was identified we move in.”
There were reported cases in Kwara State, Nigeria, a total of 1558 persons contracted the virulent disease including 11 deaths; fatality rate remains 1.7%. Thirteen of these cases were confirmed by culture in laboratory. 50% of the cases reported to be male and 49% are female. Between May-June, 2017 five Local Government areas were reportedly struck by Cholera in Kwara State: Asa (18), Ilorin East(450), Ilorin West(780), Ilorin South(215) and Moro(50), The outbreaks are majorly caused by Poor sanitation conditions and the important risk factor is lack of access to clean drinking water as observed in those affected communities.
However, in an attempt to curb the retrospective outbreak of Cholera in Nigeria, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has deployed a team to support the Borno Ministry of Health to contain a Cholera outbreak in some parts of the state, The Chief Executive Officer of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu has said, NCDC would in collaboration with other partners and humanitarian agencies support the State Ministry of Health in coordination, contact, identification, tracing, and laboratory investigation as well as manage cases of Cholera outbreak in the region.
In the same vein, Kwara State Ministry of Health has also established an Emergency Operations Centre to coordinate the outbreak response, with support from the Nigeria Centers for Disease Control, Nigeria Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, WHO and Partners.
A few Africa Nations has suffered watching cholera ravaged their homes and communities but few to mention: Zimbabwe banned street hawking of food over the fear of Typhoid and Cholera that struck sometime last year with the record of 2,300 cases of typhoid, that made the government to institute a ban on street hawking of food in capital Harare. The typhoid outbreak in Harare was blamed on poor sanitation and erratic water supplies.
And also, World Health Organisation also raised a similar alarm in the Democratic Republic of Congo that Cholera has also claimed 528 lives and it has reached a “worrying propotions.” The UN says “Cholera is a major Public Health problem in the country with millions of cases registered every year.” Last year, the disease claimed 817 lives in DR Congo according to WHO.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) rolled out best health practices that the people should turn into a habit in their fight against Cholera and water related diseases which are: washing of hands often with soup after toilet, usage of latrines was encourage while defecating in an open body of water was kicked against, people should get vaccinated before they travel, they should also cook food well especially seafood: keep it covered and eat it hot, Proper sanitation of the environment, and they should drink and use safe water preferably treated.
Inconclusion, this quote by Camille Claudel has said it all; saying, “it is in fact agreed that I am the plague, the Cholera of the benevolent and generous men who are interested in art and that when I show myself with my plasters, even the Emperor of the Sahara would flee.”