Lagos, Nasarawa, Cross River, Zamfara, 29 other states battle 2,102 Cholera cases

 The Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Jide Idris, has said a total of 2,102 suspected cholera cases and 63 deaths have been recorded across 33 states and 122 local government areas in the country.

Idris stated this in Abuja, on Tuesday while giving an update on the campaign against the cholera outbreak as the National Youth Service Corps introduced strict camp guidelines with the commencement of the 2024 Batch B Stream ‘I’ orientation course.

The orientation course runs for 21 days, equipping, and training the eligible participants of the one-year mandatory service.

To ensure a successful programme, the Director-General of the NYSC, Brig. Gen. Yushau Ahmed has issued strict instructions to camp coordinators and officials to prevent the outbreak of cholera in orientation camps nationwide.

Cholera, a highly contagious food and waterborne disease, is caused by the ingestion of the organism, Vibrio Cholerae, in contaminated water and food.

Nigeria is experiencing a significant cholera outbreak, with the cases increasing from over 1,579 suspected cases and 54 deaths in 32 states to 2,102 cases and 63 deaths in 33 states within one week.

The outbreak has notably affected Lagos, Bayelsa, Zamfara, Abia, Cross River, Bauchi, Delta, Katsina, Imo, and Nasarawa.

The primary cause has been linked to the consumption of contaminated water and inadequate sanitation, exacerbated by the onset of the rainy season, which often leads to increased cholera cases due to flooding and compromised water sources.

Briefing journalists on the measures deployed against the outbreak, Idris put the case fatality rate at 3.0 per cent.

He said seven of the top 10 states of Lagos, Bayelsa, Abia, Zamfara, Bauchi, Katsina, Cross River, Ebonyi, Rivers and Delta, which contributed about 90 per cent of the cases were southern states.

2,102 cases

The NCDC boss noted, “As of 30th June 2024, a total of 2,102 suspected cases and 63 deaths have been recorded across 33 states and 122 LGAs with a case fatality rate of 3.0 per cent since the beginning of the year.

“Of the top 10 states (Lagos, Bayelsa, Abia, Zamfara, Bauchi, Katsina, Cross River, Ebonyi, Rivers and Delta) that contribute about 90 per cent of the cases, seven of them are Southern states.’’

According to Idris,  the National Cholera Multi-sectoral Emergency Operation Centre which has been activated parades an array of subject matter experts and provides strategic coordination, meets daily and provides periodic situation reports for stakeholders.

“This also ensures effective mobilisation, harmonisation and distribution of resources to support the affected states. This is done through the relevant thematic areas of response that cover coordination, surveillance, case management, infection prevention and control, risk communication and community engagement, water sanitation and hygiene, vaccination, logistics, and research with a cost-incidence action plan for the response developed and being implemented.

“These will help facilitate rapid communication, data analysis, and decision-making. It will also ensure that we deploy resources efficiently, strengthen surveillance and diagnostic capacity, enhance treatment of affected persons, and intensify public awareness and community engagement activities,” he stated.

Before the activation of the EOC, Idris, a former permanent secretary and commissioner of health in Lagos State, disclosed that the NCDC, through the National Cholera Technical Working Group, had conducted an assessment of cholera readiness and preparedness capacity in 22 hotspots and high-burden states and shared a report of gaps with the states to guide their preparedness activities before the outbreak.

He also said the group was helping with the “provision of relevant guidelines, standard operating procedures, and advisories to states, with a view of guiding their technical readiness and how to respond to the outbreak; prepositioning and distribution of medical supplies for case management.

It is also assisting with infection prevention and control, and laboratory diagnosis, among others, to all 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

Working group

The working group, according to the NCDC, is supporting the capacity-building of LGA disease surveillance and notification officers across the country; LGA risk communication and community engagement/ health promotion officers across the country; provision of public health advisories and regular media engagement to sensitise the general public on the need to take responsibility and play their part in breaking the chain of transmission of the outbreak.

Also, it has reportedly been engaged in the distribution of jingles, flyers, and posters containing key messages on cholera prevention to all states and the FCT.

Idris assured that the government was ready to control the outbreak.

He lamented that only 123 of 774 LGAs or 16 per cent are free of open defecation, with Jigawa as the only state not recording the social malaise.

According to him, more than 48 million Nigerians practice open defecation without adequate toilet facilities, adding that existing ones even in many government facilities are not well maintained.

Idris said there was inadequate safe water and poor sanitation, lamenting that only 11 per cent of schools, six per cent of health facilities, and four per cent of motor parks and markets have access to basic water, sanitation and hygiene services.

“(There is) poor waste management practices, poor food, environmental and personal hygiene practices; capacity gap among health care workers at the state and LGA levels, weak regulation on the construction of soak-away and boreholes, (some sunk close to a water source and boreholes sunk in the wrong location); inadequate implementation and enforcement of public nuisance law and other relevant public health laws, inadequate capacity at state level-delayed disease reporting and response action.’’

Highlighting the measures being enforced in the orientation camps to keep cholera at bay, the NYSC Director of Press and Public Relations, Eddy Megwa, told The PUNCH that the corps DG had met with all camp officials across the country and charged them to ensure the ravaging disease did not find its way into any of the camps.

He said, “A few weeks ago, the director-general convened a meeting of all the state coordinators of all the orientation camps, the camp commandants, and the camp directors nationwide.

“He invited everybody, and the Riot Act was read, and all the measures were put in place to ensure that everything is put in place to ensure that this cholera would not have its way into any of the orientation camps.

“And if you have your time, go to any of the orientation camps, and there you will see for yourself.  Everything is neat, and cholera cannot have its way in our orientation camps,” the spokesman further said.

Besides the marching order handed down to camp officials, Megwa also said the organisation had put in place proactive measures to forestall the outbreak of cholera.

“Everything, from sanitation to the kitchen, has been revamped to prevent a cholera outbreak”, he stated.

Megwa added, “NYSC is a very proactive organisation, which you know.  I’m sure you also saw what NYSC did during COVID-19. What we did during COVID-19 is not like any other organisation, and that was why, even amidst COVID-19, we were given a clean bill to go on and hold orientation.

“Now, cholera is here. We have taken every proactive measure to forestall the outbreak of cholera in all the orientation camps. Camp started on the 26th of June.

“Right from the sanitary, medical, and the kitchen, everything has been re-jigged, and nothing like cholera can have its way in any of the NYSC camps.”

As part of strategies to contain the disease, the NYSC South-West Coordinator, Mrs Olubukola Abiodun, reeled out measures put in place to prevent cholera outbreaks in the NYSC camps in the region, particularly in the Osun State Orientation Camp.

Abiodun said, “As they (corps members) come in, the first port of call is for them to wash their hands. When they finish, they proceed to take their accommodation. That has been well arranged to ensure that they don’t come into the registration hall in large numbers.

“Seats are provided for them to sit as they are called in to register. So, on no account will they cluster in a place. In the kitchen, the cooking staff are tested and screened before they are employed.

“At the kitchen, water is running and the cooks are in aprons with head bonnets. As much as possible, the food is served on a platoon basis, so, there won’t be any issue.”