Home News Stakeholders worried over UN alert on Nigeria’s High cholera CFRs

Stakeholders worried over UN alert on Nigeria’s High cholera CFRs

by Haruna Gimba
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By Asmau Ahmad

Stakeholders are alarmed over the recent news alert by the United Nations and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Cholera Case Fatality Rates, which indicated that two African countries, Nigeria and Malawi, have registered CFRs as high as three per cent in 2023, against the acceptable one per cent.

The agencies estimated that one billion people in 43 countries are at risk of cholera with children under five particularly vulnerable.

The data also showed that as of May, last year, only 15 countries reported cholera cases, but by mid-May this year, 24 countries have already reported high case fatality.

According to the news alert, the agencies are anticipating more with the seasonal shift in cholera cases.

They said cholera’s high mortality ratio is spread by a combination of climate change, and under-investment in water, sanitation and hygiene services.

Reacting to the outbreak, a Professor of Molecular Biology and Genomics, Department of Biological Sciences, Redeemer’s University, Ede, Osun State, Christian Happi, said the 2023 cholera’s CFR may be higher or lower than the 2021, depending on the masses.

Prof. Happi, who is also the Director, African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Disease at Redeemer’s University, noted that the prevention of cholera in any country is not for the government alone, but through a combined effort of the masses and government.

Also, comparing the 2021 cholera suspected cases of 72,910 and 2,404 deaths (CFR 3.3%), the Biologist said the onus lies with the masses to ensure the 2021 CFA does not repeat itself.

He said, “To end the Cholera cases in Nigeria, the people must be found doing the right thing by ensuring the maintenance of good hygiene principles. People should not defecate anywhere they see and must obey and follow the government’s guidelines to end the disease.

“All hands must be on deck to ensure the case fatality rate does not surpass that of 2021. Everybody must abide by the rules. Also, I would think that awareness is equally not enough. We need to increase awareness, especially in the rural areas.

“We need to create awareness beyond the mass media like you are doing now. We need to create awareness in churches, mosques, schools, market places, and make use of any opportunity we have. Like I said, ending cholera lies in our hands to do the right thing.”

Speaking also, a public health expert and a visiting laboratory scientist at Abuja-based Prime Gold Hospital, Dr. Victoria Odinaka, said, “We are worried because Nigeria has been combating Cholera outbreaks with high CFRs since 1991 and it seems there’s little or no progress in sight if Nigeria still experiences high CFRs every year.

“Ideally, after three decades of the protracted war against cholera, Nigeria should not be recording large-scale outbreaks of a disease that is 100 per cent preventable. Nigeria’s over 30 years experience would have given her the opportunity of developing strategies towards eliminating this menace.

“With the alleged total of 72,910 suspected cases and 2,404 deaths in 27 states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the 2021 outbreak surpassed the peak record of 1991, 30 years ago, where a total of 59,478 cases were recorded.

“So, Nigeria should not be recording such a huge CFR in this 21st century. It appears that instead of coming down, cholera is progressing. The government and its agencies should rise up to their responsibilities.”

Speaking in the same vein, a family physician and a social health worker at Ajeromi Mother and Child Hospital, Lagos, Dr. Ben Obasi, said dehydration is a major cause of death from cholera, noting that oral rehydration therapy could be of help in addition to other medications.

According to him, treatments include giving large volumes of water mixed with sugar and salts as a homemade ORT treatment, pointing out that pre-packaged mixtures are commercially available.

However, the Nigeria Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) said it has taken measures to strengthen the country’s prevention, control and management of cholera outbreaks.

The NCDC Director-General, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa, said the NCDC-led National Technical Working Group is collaborating with other ministries, agencies, and partners to validate Nigeria’s National Strategic Plan of Action for Cholera Control.

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