The Federal Government has flagged off a National Environmental Sanitation Response against the cholera outbreak ravaging the country.
The Minister of Environment, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar, who was represented by the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Mr Abel Olumuyiwa, said as at August 17, 2021, 37,498 suspected cases including 1,149 deaths in 24 states and FCT were reported.
He said, “It is against this background today’s event is being organised to flag off our response activities to the increasing rate of spread of Cholera cases across the country, sensitize the general public on cholera preventive and control measures to avert further outbreaks and strengthen collaboration with NCDC and other stakeholders in tackling the cholera scourge.”
He noted that cholera, which is a sanitation and hygiene enabled disease is an acute diarrhoeal infection caused by ingestion of unwholesome food or water contaminated with the bacterium vibrio cholera due to poor personal hygiene, unsafe environmental sanitation conditions compounded by lack of potable water supply.
The Minister said cholera remains a global threat to public health and affects both children and adults and can kill if untreated.
“It is an extremely virulent disease that takes between 12 hours and 5 days for symptoms to manifest. The symptoms are watery diarrhoea, dehydration, pain in abdomen, nausea, vomiting e.t.c.
“Cholera outbreak is a seasonal public health event in Nigeria, occurring annually mostly during the rainy season and more often in areas with poor sanitation and hygiene practices,” he added.
Dr Abubakar said Nigeria continues to suffer from cholera epidemic and other sanitation and hygiene-enabled diseases every year despite efforts.
He explained that, “this is largely due to our collective behaviour and attitude towards environmental sanitation and hygiene practices which are very poor. This year’s outbreak is very serious and has continued to ravage many states with more fatalities being reported on a daily basis.”
He, therefore, disclosed that the Federal Ministry of Environment will commence the construction of a modern toilet with borehole and solar powered pump in the Gbazango community in Bwari area council before the end of the year as part of its efforts to eradicate open defecation and contain the cholera outbreak.
The Minister added that the Federal Ministry of Environment as part of response to the outbreak immediately activated the Sanitation Desks in the 36 State Ministries of Environment and FCT, urging them to carry out environmental sanitation activities in their various states aimed at containing the outbreak.
In his goodwill message, the
representative of the FCT Minister, Mohammed Kawu, pledged to work with relevant authorities to contain the spread of the outbreak in FCT.
Also, in a goodwill message, the representative of the UNICEF, Mr Michael Forson, said over 58,000 suspected cases of cholera were reported across the country with 2,035 deaths in 24 states and the FCT as at the end of August by NCDC.
He said within the last two months, there has been, on the average, about 6,500 reported suspected cases per week, “which is quite alarming”.
He said of the reported cases, 49 percent are women, 26 percent are children 5-14 years and 15 percent are under 5 years.
He disclosed that from the statistics, 46 million Nigerians across all states and Abuja still defecate in the open due to lack of toilets.
Mr Forson said even schools and health centers equally suffer from lack or inadequate toilet, safe water, and hygiene facilities in Nigeria.
He added that UNICEF would collaborate with the government, civil society and the private sector to create access to safe water while promoting community-led water safety planning process.
While congratulating the federal government ,he said environmental sanitation measures have been proven globally to be key effective infection prevention and control measures that greatly aid in halting the spread of cholera transmission, and ultimately eradicating the disease.
The Chairman Bwari Area Council,Dr. John Gabaya commending the government for the iniative said Bwari is worse hit by the cholera outbreak in the FCT.
He therefore pledged that the measures put in place will be taken down to the 10 political wards of the council.
The district head of Gbazango,HRH Jibrin Mohammed thanked the federal government for finding his community worthy to pilot the response initiative.
The traditional ruler called on the environment officers to ensure prompt collection of refuse and government to equip the community clinic.