By Iyemah David
Nigeria recorded more than 100,000 suspected cases of cholera in 2021, its highest in recent times, the WHO declared in Abuja on Monday.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control had said earlier in the year that Nigeria recorded 111,062 cases of cholera in 2021 with 3,604 deaths, figures exceeding the number of cases and deaths recorded in 2020.
WHO Country Representative in Nigeria, Dr Walter Mulombo, corroborated the figure at a training session on oral cholera vaccine request and campaign planning organised by the Global Task Force on Cholera Control (GTFCC).
The GTFCC is an agency of the WHO.
Mulombo acknowledged the role of the GTFCC and its Country Support Platform (CSP) in the global roadmap for cholera control, especially in endemic countries.
He said the agency had proved to be effective in the development of National Control Plans, which included vaccination and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) activities.
“We are mindful of the support by different partners and donors through the WHO, for the response.
“This includes reactive vaccination with more than 1.7 million persons vaccinated with two doses each of Oral Cholera Vaccination (OCV) in Bauchi, Jigawa, Yobe, and Zamfara states.
“We believe that the recently approved GTFCC application for Nigeria will significantly mitigate the risk of and upsurge of cholera cases during this rainy season.
“The application covers approximately nine million doses of OCV to implement two campaigns in 14 local government areas in nine states and the FCT,’’ Mulombo said.
He stressed the need for speedy shipment and allocation of the vaccines to ensure early vaccination.
The WHO representative said Nigeria had demonstrated the capacity to implement vaccinations in difficult settings like insecurity, as experienced in two local government areas in Zamfara.
He noted that the country had also addressed and improved vaccination data quality through the use of real-time reporting by campaign teams using handheld mobile phones.
“We believe that the vast experience built in Nigeria over the years in implementing mass vaccination campaigns will come to bear as we prepare for the next preventive campaigns.
Mulombo challenged Nigeria to seize all opportunities for vaccination in specifically target areas with zero doses and ensure that often-missed children were offered OCV and all routine vaccinations.
This, he said, was necessary so that the country would meet the global target of ending cholera by 2030
There is the need to improve coordination of cholera control efforts and ensure that clean and safe water as well as improved hygienic practices are implemented sustainably to achieve the desired goal, he said.