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Hundreds Die, Thousands Affected By Cholera

Nigeria
The Leadership Newspaper
29/08/2010

The country is presently witnessing a cholera epidemic in some states, where over 435 persons have lost their lives and thousands hospitalised.

In this report, Winifred Ogbebo and Bauchi State correspondent,Sani Muh'd Sani , examine the situation and the causes.

Over four hundred and thirty five persons have lost their lives to cholera and measles this year, the Federal Ministry of Health has revealed. A document signed by the special assistant to the health minister on communication, Rakiya Zubairu, stated that reports from the department of public health shows that so far, 11 states are battling with the epidemic.

The report also added that the first suspected cholera outbreak occurred in June 2010, in Adamawa State, and after that 6,437 cases have been confirmed with 352 deaths this year.

It reads, "although most of the outbreaks occurred in the North-West and North-East zones, epidemilogical evidence indicates that the entire country is at risk'.

'The disease is endemic in most parts of Nigeria but often occurs in epidemic proportion at the onset of the dry season, when people scramble for drinking water from doubtful sources and during rainy season when contaminants are washed into surface and underground water sources".

Giving another reason for the outbreak, the report says, 'a quick survey by Federal Ministry of Health revealed that less than 40% of the entire population in affected states have no access to toilet facilities of any description. Thus, open defecation is the only alternative available to the people"

"Another major factor responsible for the epidemic is the fact that majority of our population (66% in rural dwellers') lack access to safe drinking water, while the wells from where drinking water is drawn from by the rural population are without cover, hence open to contamination".

Not surprisingly, the current devastation is more widespread in the north, where most statistics say the largest number of the poor live.

The affected states are Jigawa, with 86 confirmed cases and 6 deaths; Bauchi, 1725 cases and 53 deaths; Gombe, 1188, 59; Yobe with 456 46; Borno has 1090 cases and 80 deaths; while Adamawa has about 986 cases with 56 deaths.

Other states are Taraba with 277 cases with 16 deaths; FCT has about 137 cases with 2 deaths; Cross River has 557 cases with 24 deaths; Kaduna has 12 cases with 2 deaths while Rivers has 81 confirmed cases with 3 deaths.

According to the health ministry, laboratory tests conducted by themselves and Medecins Sans Frontiers revealed that the samples of stool and water showed traces of vibro cholera.

Specifically, Bauchi State has recorded the highest death toll since the outbreak of the disease. It has a total of 1,725 patients infected by cholera epidemic in the last eight weeks, while 53 died as a result of the disease within the same period. This is recorded by the team of medical experts under the state primary health care and revealed by its chief medical director, Dr. Musa Muhammad Dambam.

"Bauchi local government has the highest number with 1,368 cases and a total of 31 deaths, followed by Ganjuwa Local Government Area in the state with 284 cases and 20 deaths. Other local governments suffering from the outbreak of the epidemic include Shira, Tafawa Balewa and Toro between 10 to 13 patients."

The federal government under the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) recently intervened with donation of over 1,000 ringer lactate to assist the state in fighting the cholera epidemic ravaging the state. The donation was givien to the state through the state director of the Primary Health Care, Dr. Musa Muhammad Dambam at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Teaching Hospital (ATBU), Bauchi State, by the Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency(NPHCDA), Dr Muhammad Ali Pate last weekend.
On his assessment of the situation, Pate said that cholera exemplifies the linkage between health and other sectors, water and sanitation. He said that those sectors have direct consequences and direct impact on the people.

"Cholera is a disease that is transmitted where there is no sanitation and where water is not as portable as it should be."

The state director advised all and sundry to improve their hygiene and boil any water before drinking it, to wash properly any vegetables and fruits, and to properly disinfect common areas.
"What causes this cholera outbreak especially during rainy season says the commissioner for Health, Alh. Muhammad Jalam, is that most of the communities don't treat their water before using it. When there is flood, it goes inside the well and when such water is taken, one will be infected".

The commissioner stated that the outbreak is minimal in other local governments, but about 96% was recorded in Bauchi metropolis. "After this exercise, we are going to all the local governments with environmental sanitation department to embark on serious campaign because some of the household complain of poverty which cannot allow them address the situation on their own, so we want to parley with the local governments and ward heads to ensure that they render help to their people especially in the rural areas".

Meanwhile, the Bauchi State governor, Isa Yuguda, has directed that all machineries should be in place no matter the amount to stop it further spreading in the affected and unaffected areas in the state.

Similarly, the Borno State governor, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff has said that the state government has released the sum of N100 million for the control of the epidemic which is currently ravaging the state. He stated that his government had taken drastic measures by purchasing enough drugs and dispatching medical personnel to the affected areas to treat the cholera patients, adding that people should always keep their environments clean and always treat their water before drinking.

Irked by the reported outbreak of the disease, an expert, Mr Michael Ale has called for the immediate establishment of a National Drinking Water Advisory Council.

Ale, a former governing member of the World Water Council, said the government must stop what he called, fire brigade approach and temporary intervention on issues such as cholera.

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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