June 24, 2024

Cholera: Avoid unregistered beverages, Lagos govt cautions citizens



 The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, has warned the public to avoid unregulated and unregistered beverages to prevent ingesting contaminated drinks. 

Abayomi advised during a state multi-agency news briefing and update on the cholera outbreak on Monday in Lagos. 

The commissioner said that history taken from the no fewer than 500 suspected cholera cases in the state showed that some of the patients indicated consuming some street beverages.

 He, however, said that the majority of patients talked about other forms of access to drinks, including sachet water, bottled water, carbonated drinks, noting that street beverages were common in the state. 

“It is what a lot of people consume on their way to and from work or after school. So, it’s not surprising that a few of our suspected cases referred to the consumption of a beverage. 

“However, liquid beverages are produced in a batch. And once the batch is produced, it is distributed and consumed. 

“So, when we go back to a particular location where they are manufacturing street beverages, we may not find anything at all because the batch that was contaminated has been completely distributed.

“My advice to the public is check the NAFDAC number of beverages bought on the street, if it’s not certified by NAFDAC, avoid it,” he warned. 

Abayomi further said that the state would pay attention to the source of water used by manufacturers for their production, noting that efforts were ongoing to regulate activities of street manufacturers. 

“First of all, we are trying to emphasise the fact that if you are going to manufacture anything for public consumption, you must be registered with NAFDAC,” he said. 

According to him, the state is conducting tests on several beverages to identify the source of the cholera outbreak, noting that currently, results are yet to indicate a particular source. 

He said that the state would introduce a Safe Plate and Safe Drinking Initiative to ensure safety of food and drinks produced in the state. 

Speaking on cholera vaccination, Abayomi said the state was cautious about adding new vaccines, noting that there was a general global and national sensitivity around vaccines presently. 

“We have to be very sure that the introduction of the oral cholera vaccine will actually make a difference before we expose you to a new vaccine. 

“There is evidence that it is effective, but it needs to be repeated. It only lasts for a period of time.

“In this situation, when our incidence of the cholera cases has completely subsided, it does not support the rollout of an oral cholera vaccination campaign,” he said. 

Similarly, the state Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Mr Jamiu Alli-Balogun, disclosed that no case of cholera was recorded in the state’s public and private schools. 

Alli-Balogun said that an advisory had been issued to parents, guardians, and school authorities urging all to adhere to safety guidelines to ensure the health and safety of children against cholera. 

Also, Mr Gbenga Omotoso, state Commissioner for Information, said open defecation was common in the state and posed a threat to citizens’ health. 

 Omotoso said the state government would provide new public toilets around the state to curb open defecation. 

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Lagos on June 11 alerted residents that the state had recorded an excess report of severe gastroenteritis cases. 

Abayomi, on June 15, disclosed that laboratory tests had confirmed that the outbreak was due to cholera with the identified strain being highly aggressive and contagious, with potential for widespread transmission.

As at June 23, fatalities from the state’s cholera outbreak have risen to 29 deaths, 579 suspected cases, 43 laboratory confirmed cases across multiple Local Government Areas in the state.