Nigeria flags off Environmental Response to Cholera Outbreak
By Zeniat Abubakar, Abuja
The Nigerian government has flagged off the National Environmental Sanitation Response Intervention to Cholera outbreak in the country.
The Federal Ministry of Environment in collaboration with relevant stakeholders including Environmental Health Officer’s (EHO’s) in the States and local Government Areas commenced the nationwide intervention response activities in Kubwa, Abuja which is currently the epi-centre in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Environment, Mr Able Olumuyiwa Enitan said the Ministry of Environment in collaboration with stakeholders across government at all levels, organized private sector has taken steps to deliver adequate sanitation and hygiene services to the citizenry.
Following the outbreak of the disease in the country, the Ministry immediately activated the sanitation desks in the 36 State Ministries of Environment and FCT to carry out environmental sanitation activities in their various states aimed at containing the disease.
He said “Nigeria is currently experiencing cholera outbreak in several parts of the country with reported cases of fatalities. Latest situation report from Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC released on 17TH August, 2021 indicated a total number of 37,498 suspected cases including 1,149 deaths in 24 States and FCT.
It is against this background that this event is being organised to flag off our response activities to the increasing rate and spread of Cholera cases across the country. The event will also 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”.
Mr Enitan said the country continues to suffer from cholera epidemic and other sanitation and hygiene enabled diseases every year due to our collective behaviour and attitude towards environmental sanitation and hygiene practices which are very poor.
He added thatthat the Federal Ministry of Environment will commence the construction of a modern toilet with borehole and solar powered pump in Bazango community, Kubwa a suburb in the FCT, before the end of the year as part of its efforts to eradicate open defecation and contain the Cholera outbreak.
Creating sanitary awareness
The Registrar, Environmental Health Officers Registration Council of Nigeria, EHORECON, Dr. Muhammed Yakubu said the event was to create awareness and also to inform the community that the citizens also have a responsibility to keep the environment clean.
He added that EHORECON in collaboration with the Area council has activated 30,000 environmental health emergency volunteer already in the field assisting in the environmental health surveillance and also providing health education to be able to curtail the epidemic.
The Chairman Bwari Area Council Dr. John Gabaya commended the Federal government for not abandoning them at a time like this.
“Bwari Area Council is one of the ward also experiencing the disease today. We thought the government has forgotten the Area Council with the challenges being faced in terms of the cholera outbreak but now we are convinced today that we are recognized by the government” he said.
He said the Area Council has taken steps to stop the further spread of the disease beyond the communities already affected.
“We are currently engaged in intensive sensitisation and education of residents across the 10 political wards, with about five basic CHOLERA prevention steps”.
Partnerships and collaborations
The Country Representative, UNICEF, Water Sanitation and Hygiene, WASH, Mr Michael Forson, said UNICEF will partner and collaborate with the government, civil society and the private sector to create access to safe water while promoting community led water safety planning process.
He said as a partner to the Nigerian government, UNICEF will continue to support the government to operationalize cholera emergency operational centers and multi sectorial coordination and cholera prevention and control through water sanitation and hygiene WASH interventions.
“From the definition of cholera and its causes, it is evident that unsafe drinking water, poor sanitation and poor hygiene practices are the underlying causes. From statistics, 48 million Nigerians across all States and Abuja still defecate in the open” Forson added.
The leader of Bazango community a suburb in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Mr Jubril Muhammed appealed to the government to ensure that all measures are put in place to eradicate the disease.
He also appealed to the Abuja Environment Protection Board, AEPB, to help provide the community with dumping bins.
In August the NCDC reported over 58,000, suspected cases of cholera across the country with 2,035 deaths in 24 states and the Federal Capital Territory FCT. About 6,500 of the suspected reported cases per week, 49 percent are women while 26 percent are children aged from five to fourteen years and 15 percent are under five years.
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.