HealthNewsPress Release

Sustainable Human And Environment Interaction Is Key To Cholera Prevention And Control

The Federal Ministry of Environment is deeply concerned about the ongoing cholera outbreak in some states of Nigeria which has tragically claimed many lives and affected many communities. Recent situation report from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) indicated a total number of 1159 suspected cases, 65 confirmed cases and 30 deaths across 30 States. The States most affected, contributing 90% of the total cases includes, Bayelsa, Lagos, Zamfara, Abia, Bauchi, Cross River, Ebonyi, Delta and Katsina.

Against this background, the Federal Ministry of Environment has been actively involved through the Department of Pollution Control and Environmental Health and the Environmental Health Officers Registration Council of Nigeria in activities to break further transmission of the deadly disease through water and food testing to identify sources of infection, environmental sanitation campaigns and household water chlorination. Arrangements are also being made to support states most affected by the outbreak with chlorine solution/tablets, water and food testing resources, IEC materials and technical advisory.

The Federal Ministry of Environment is issuing this press release to sensitise the general public on cholera preventive and control measures to avert further spread and strengthen collaboration with the health authorities and other stakeholders in line with the one health approach of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Cholera, a poor sanitation and poor hygiene driven disease is an acute diarrhoea infection caused by ingestion of unwholesome food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. It remains a global threat to public health, affecting both children and adults and can kill if untreated promptly. It is an extremely virulent disease that takes between 12 hours and 5 days for symptoms to manifest. The common early symptoms are frequent watery stool that is usually milky white in colour, nausea and vomiting. Cholera outbreak is a seasonal public health event in Nigeria, occurring annually mostly during the rainy season and often in areas with poor sanitation and hygiene practices. Extreme climate events like flooding are also contributing in multiple ways to drive the outbreak of the disease.

The World Health Organization has confirmed the global resurgence of cases of cholera classifying the current outbreak a “grade 3 public health emergency”, requiring maximal WHO system wide response. Nigeria is one of the 14 countries in Africa where the resurgence is being experienced.

To prevent the spread of cholera, we urge all Nigerians to be more vigilant, imbibe good sanitation and hygiene practices at home and in their workplace and take preventive measures such as:
keeping their environment clean always and disposing of waste properly at designated places.
Ensuring the use of clean and safe water. Water from suspicious sources should be well boiled or treated by adding one part of chlorine solution to 100 parts of water.
Avoid locally prepared drinks like kunu, sobo, fura da nono, koko, fruit juice etc except it is certain that the preparation was done in an hygienic and safe manner.
Wash hands regularly with soap under running water, especially at moments such as after using the toilet, after cleaning a child who has gone to the toilet, before preparing food, before and after eating, and after playing with animals.
Avoid open defecation and instead use clean and safe toilets.
Cook foodstuff well, keeping food covered and eating it hot. Eating in public places including at parties should be done with utmost care.
Wash fruits and vegetables with clean and safe water before eating.
Anybody experiencing any of the symptoms of cholera is advised to seek medical attention immediately.

We urge all Commissioners of Environment and Local Government Chairmen to support Environmental Health Officers across the country to step up their sanitation and hygiene activities through enhanced community-led total sanitation in order to break further transmission and spread of the disease. We also urge the scale-up of awareness campaigns focusing especially on places where prepared food and drinks are sold like markets, garages, schools, restaurants, stadia, religious, and sporting events. In addition, sub-national governments are urged to strengthen environmental health surveillance in eating premises like “mama put”, cafeterias, restaurants and mobile food vendors.

We assure the general public that the Federal Ministry of Environment remains committed to ensuring a clean and healthy environment for all Nigerians. This is the only way we can prevent and curtail the incidence of Cholera outbreaks and other sanitation related diseases.

Cholera is preventable, and prevention remains better and cheaper than cure. We therefore urge all Nigerians to take these preventive measures seriously and more importantly, keep their environment clean.

The ministry extends its condolence to families who have lost loved ones and stand in solidarity with all those affected by the outbreak.

    Dr. Iziaq Adekunle Salako

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