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Cholera Outbreak In Lagos: UNICEF Calls For Urgent Action As LASG Confirms 15 Deaths

The Lagos State government has confirmed 17 cholera cases out of 350 suspected cases, as well as 15 deaths.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said recurrent cholera outbreaks in Nigeria are critically affecting children and the population at large.

This is as the Lagos State government on Saturday confirmed 17 cases of the disease out of 350 suspected cases in 29 wards in the state.

This was contained in a statement issued on Saturday by UNICEF’s Chief of Lagos UNICEF Field Office, Celine Lafoucrier, in response to the cholera outbreak in Lagos and other parts of the country.

Lafoucrier said children faced substantial health risks, particularly those below the age of five, who were prone to severe dehydration and a higher mortality rate.

She urged governments at all levels to focus on the provision of clean and risk-free water to prevent the spread of cholera in the country.

According to her, despite the state government’s efforts to provide water to its population, the current outbreak has demonstrated the need for an urgent government focus on ensuring that the water provided to the population is clean and risk-free.

“Addressing the challenges of cholera outbreaks requires a deliberate focus of state policies.

“And this includes the provision of high-standard water and sanitation facilities as well as strengthened healthcare systems capable of responding to demand in times of outbreaks.

“There should be campaigns on cholera prevention to protect children and the population at large,” she said.

Lafoucrier said that good water and sanitation infrastructure played a crucial role in reducing disease outbreaks, such as cholera, which causes an estimated 100,000 deaths annually.

“Water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) interventions are fundamental in preventing and responding to cholera epidemics.

“Safe water supplies, hygienic sanitation, and effective water management are key elements in this effort.

“Ultimately, preventing cholera centres on good sanitation and hygiene practices.

“Key actions include proper disposal of faeces, eliminating open defecation, and ensuring access to potable water.

“Regular hand washing with clean, running water and soap is vital.

“Additionally, avoiding the consumption of uncooked vegetables, unwashed fruits, raw or undercooked seafood, and food from street vendors is important to reduce the risk of cholera infection,” she said.

According to her, safer water can annually prevent 1.4 million child deaths from diarrhea, 500,000 deaths from malaria, and 860,000 child deaths from malnutrition.

She said that it could also protect 10 million people from serious illnesses like lymphatic filariasis and trachoma.

Lafoucrier, however, said that disease outbreaks ultimately hinder Nigeria’s progress in achieving health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 3, which focuses on ensuring healthy lives and well-being for all.

Meanwhile, the Lagos State government has confirmed 17 cholera cases out of 350 suspected cases in 29 wards in the state.

According to a statement on Saturday, the state government said it had recorded 15 fatalities from the cholera outbreak.

The statement signed by the Director of Public Affairs at the state Ministry of Health, Tunbosun Ogunbanwo, noted that the government has activated its Public Health Emergency Operations Centre at Mainland Hospital, Yaba, Lagos.

It said the PHEOC was convened to address the increasing number of severe gastroenteritis cases across multiple LGAs in the state.

The statement added that the Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, disclosed this while speaking on steps taken to control the outbreak in Lagos State.

“He revealed that 350 suspected cases of cholera were reported in 29 wards across multiple LGAs in Lagos State with 17 confirmed cases and 15 fatalities so far,” the statement partly read.

The commissioner was quoted as saying, “The laboratory investigation and test results have so far confirmed Cholera sub-type O-1. This subtype is associated with more severe disease. The pattern of new cases per day varies across LGAs, according to our ongoing surveillance and monitoring updates.

“Although this is an increase from the numbers published 3 days ago, cases are now dramatically subsiding in previously affected LGAs due to our interventions and surveillance efforts, however, we are recording some new cases in previously unaffected LGAs, signalling the need for residents to adhere strictly to precautionary, personal, and environmental hygiene measures.

He added, “The Directorate of Environmental Health of the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency of the Ministry of Environment, have collected samples of water sources, food and beverage samples in all the affected LGAs, while inspections of facilities are ongoing.

“We are prepositioning cholera kits in health facilities across the State. Our efforts to control the outbreak also include the distribution of Oral Rehydration Solutions, and public health education campaigns.”

Abayomi noted that a Lagos State Government Ministry of Health high-level team just concluded a meeting with the Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr Jide Idris, and his team as well as partners from the World Health Organisation to ensure all interventions are optimised.

Abayomi urged residents to support the state government’s efforts by adhering strictly to precautionary measures, cooperating with health authorities, and participating in community-wide sanitation activities to mitigate the spread of cholera, particularly as the Sallah celebration approaches.

“During this Ileya festive season, residents are advised to drink safe water, cook food thoroughly, maintain personal hygiene, wash hands regularly, use sanitiser, and avoid overcrowded places.

“Reporting symptoms like watery diarrhoea or vomiting immediately is also crucial, to save lives and prevent transmission to other members of the community.

“Treatment for suspected cholera is provided free of charge at all government facilities as part of government standard public health response,” he said.

The commissioner added, “We will continue to monitor the situation closely and provide regular updates. Residents are advised to stay informed and adhere to public health advisories to ensure their safety and well-being during this period.”

Funmi Ogundare

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