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Stop This Cholera Scourge

Nigeria
Daily Trust
29/08/2010

Almost 400 people have died since the recent wave of the cholera epidemic hit the nation two months ago. Latest figures show over 6,000 people have contracted the disease from the start of this new outbreak in Adamawa State in June this year.

A total of ten states have now recorded both thousands of cases and hundreds of fatalities arising from the epidemic. These states include Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Yobe, Taraba, Kaduna, Cross-River, Rivers and of course Adamawa.

This quick spread of the deadly disease confirms the federal ministry of health's warning that 'Although most of the outbreaks occurred in the North-West and North-East zones, epidemiological evidence indicates that the entire country is at risk.' It is unfortunate that cholera, which used to be heard of once or twice in a decade, has now become an annual epidemic in this country. Even more unfortunate is the fact that despite its regular yearly occurrence, our authorities are always never ready to arrest the disease when the first few cases occur.

Lack of prompt government response and insufficient vaccines have been the first complaints from health workers directly on the scene of these outbreaks. The delayed official response leads to quick spread and avoidable deaths because help does not get to the affected people fast enough. In Borno State, tales of vaccine shortage forcing affected victims to return home and resort to self-medication were rampant, with the result that victims could not be quarantined, and easily spread the infection to those around them.

The recent floods in most parts of the North also compounded the situation further. When the floods destroyed houses and caused domestic sewage to burst forth and merge with blocked drainages in the affected areas, the result was a worsening of the water borne disease spread. It says a lot about the seriousness of our health authorities that a disease whose cause is so well-known should be allowed to keep recurring. It is obvious at this point that government should lay more emphasis on preventive health, than curative as a first step to stopping this annual cholera scourge.

Drinking of contaminated water is known as the main cause of cholera outbreak. State governments must commit themselves to the provision of potable drinking water for the people both in rural and urban areas. Sanitation must also be given top priority, with state governments not just naming one Saturday in a month as environmental sanitation day but actually enforcing the clean up exercise by making sure residents came out to clean their surroundings. Right now we all know that sanitation days are mainly observed in the breach in most parts of this country.

Local government councils must live up to their responsibility of clearing rubbish heaps that are gradually taking over most streets and roads in our towns and cities, by providing standard refuse disposal facilities and ensuring that these too are regularly emptied with refuse disposal trucks to a designated dump site. We must return to the days of sanitary inspectors who used to go from door to door and street to street to ensure domestic and street compliance with sanitary requirements. People must be educated to get rid of dirt, not to tolerate it.

Here the federal government must sponsor a massive enlightenment campaign on the importance of maintaining clean environments and how that keeps diseases away, on radio and television, in newspapers and on billboards. For sure if we want to end this annual cholera and other epidemics, a multi-dimensional approach, such as the one listed above, is the only solution. The fire-brigade approach we have been using whenever an outbreak is recorded has proved ineffective, both in arresting and in preventing a recurrence. We need to start a vigorous campaign of prevention along the lines of sanitation and enlightenment now.

El contenido de las noticias que se presentan en esta sección es responsabilidad directa de las agencias emisoras de noticias y no necesariamente reflejan la posición del Gobierno de México en este u otros temas relacionados.

    

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