Somalia Battles Cholera Outbreak

WHO, IOM, UNICEF Hold Cholera Emergency Meeting

The World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) held an emergency meeting on Tuesday in Lagos State as 30 states in Nigeria battle against the recent cholera outbreak.

The WHO Country Representative, Dr Walter Mulombo, disclosed this on his X handle.

He said, “Happening Now: @WHONigeria @UNICEF_Nigeria @IOM_Nigeria hold an emergency meeting on the emerging cholera outbreak in Lagos State. The three agencies are discussing joint @UN_Nigeria support @NCDCgov @ProfAkinAbayomi.”

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, in its latest report, said from January 1 to June 11, 2024, over 1,141 suspected and over 65 confirmed cases of cholera, resulting in over 30 deaths, had been reported from 96 LGAs in 30 states.

However, the Lagos State Ministry of Health said it has recorded 350 suspected cases of cholera in 29 wards across multiple local government areas with 17 confirmed cases and 15 fatalities attributed to severe dehydration caused by delayed presentation.

The state Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi, said the Island area of Lagos was found to be the epicentre of the outbreak.

Abayomi said 106 out of the 350 suspected cases in the state were recorded on Lagos Island.

Experts warns ahead of NYSC camping

As the 37 permanent camps of the National Youth Service Corps across the country open to thousands of prospective corps members, for their three-week-long orientation exercise on June 26, 2024, medical experts say poor sanitary conditions, lack of clean water, and cleaning supplies can predispose corps members to a cholera outbreak.

According to them, such camps sometimes suffer from sanitation and hygiene issues, consequently, illnesses and diseases can easily spread.

A professor of Public Health at the University of Ilorin and Consultant Public Health physician at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Kwara State, Kayode Osagbemi, urged the NYSC authorities to ensure the camps are clean and suitable for stay before prospective corps members resume.

He said this is the best time to provide a clean water supply and environmental sanitation to prevent the outbreak of cholera or other diseases.

Osagbemi stated, “We don’t need to wait until they start having the infection before we start treating because prevention is easier, better, and cheaper than treatment. We would not recommend that people should not go to camps because of cholera, the important thing is to observe the preventive measures.

“There are some camps that have pipe-borne water and boreholes with safe and clean water, but there are some that water tankers supply them with water, so such water should be treated before being dispatched to the camps.

“The corps members should also obey the rules of personal hygiene, environmental sanitation, and regular washing of hands. If they can abide by that, there’s no risk or there’s no reason to stop them from going to the camps.

“Just as the schools are resuming after the break, the same principles apply to them, even the universities. Anywhere you have a huge gathering of people, you need to observe strict hygiene.”

The public health expert harped on the need for concerted efforts by the Federal Government, state governments, relevant agencies, and partners to ensure safe camping for every corps member.

A public health policy and management specialist, Dr Laz Eze, said cholera is a deadly but preventable bacterial infectious disease.

Eze, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of TalkHealth9ja, stated, “Poor environmental hygiene, unsafe drinking water, unclean toilets, open defecation, and poor hand hygiene are risk factors for contracting and spreading cholera.

“To prevent cholera, there has to be proper education for the inhabitants of the NYSC camps on water hygiene, environmental sanitation, and hand hygiene. Safe drinking water, clean toilets, and proper waste disposal should be made available.

“Foods should be cooked properly, plates washed with safe clean water, toilets cleaned up regularly and corps members should wash their hands regularly with soap and running water.”