…directs federal facilities to provide free services to affected persons
BY SOLA OGUNDIPE & RACHAEL OLAYIWOLA
ABUJA—The Federal Ministry of Health yesterday confirmed that 86 deaths have been recorded from 1,623 cholera cases in six states of the federation just as all federal health facilities nationwide have been directed to provide free treatment to cholera patients.
A statement issued in Abuja by the apex Health Ministry, identified Zamfara State in the North-West as the most affected state with 51 deaths out of 1,110 cases. It is followed by Nasarawa State with nine deaths out of 105 cases.
Giving an update on the outbreak of the disease in the country, Minster of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu listed other affected States to include Plateau State: 11 deaths from 130 cases; Lagos State: four deaths from 134 cases; Oyo State: six deaths from 29 cases and Ogun State with five deaths from 115 cases.
Chukwu, who explained the current estimate of the patterns of distribution of the outbreaks across the country, noted: “These are estimates, because trickles of incidences and mortalities may still be coming. However, in Sokoto and Katsina states, the gastro-enteritis outbreaks have not been proven to be cholera. While further investigations continue, only confirmed cases are included in the current statistics.
“The outbreak in the states mentioned earlier has been confirmed by our laboratories to be caused by Vibiro cholerae serotypes 01 and 0139,” the Minister remarked.
Further, he said the affected states are being supported to respond to the outbreak by supplying them with emergency drugs, diagnostic kits and other commodities. “The Federal Ministry of Health realises that the affected states will require further assistance and efforts are being made to upscale our technical and material assistance to those states immediately.”
The minister who has directed the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, to immediately co-ordinate response activities and report to him daily on both the patterns of occurrence, efforts at achieving total control of these outbreaks as well as the status of the control, assured that government will continue to enhance its surveillance, intervention measures and implement public health awareness campaigns aimed at stemming such occurrences.
Already, the minister has directed immediate release of adequate quantities of emergency drugs (cholera kits) to all the affected states for prompt and adequate treatment of cases.
According to the statement, additional deployment of rapid response teams from the ministry to all the affected states is in place to assist in investigating and verifying the cases and tracing of contacts.
Other steps taken to check the menace include mobilization and sensitization of clinicians and relevant healthcare workers in areas affected for patient management and care and immediate enhancement of health promotion/public awareness campaign to enhance among others good personal and community hygiene behaviour and encourage food hygiene practices.
Chukwu urged Nigerians, including health care workers to increase their propensity to adopt hygiene based health-seeking behaviours that will ensure safety.
These hygiene practices include hand-washing with soap after visiting the toilet and also before eating; cultivation of the habit of regular and intermittent hand-washing with soap and water and desisting from open defecation.
Others include boiling of water before drinking, protection of food from house flies, thorough washing of fruits and vegetables before eating them and environmental cleanliness.