June 25, 2024

Cholera: Deploy public analysts for water testing, SoTLAN tasks FG


By Chioma Obinna

Laboratory Analysts have expressed worry over the current cholera outbreak impacting Lagos and Ogun States, urging the government to take immediate action to protect public health by deploying Public Analysts to conduct comprehensive water quality testing in the affected areas.

The Laboratory analysts under the auspices of the Society of Testing Laboratory Analysts of Nigeria (SoTLAN) blamed the deaths from the outbreak on inadequate public awareness of the remote and immediate causes, as well as the preventive measures, highlighting the critical need for immediate action to safeguard public health.

Making this call in a press statement made available to Vanguard,  the President of the Society,   Olugbenga Ogunmoyela, said it is only when such water and sanitation outlets have been properly sampled and tested, that directional measures can be taken to arrest the outbreak and prescribe future actions.

Cholera is a severe diarrheal disease caused by the consumption of contaminated food or water. Therefore, ensuring the quality and safety of our foods and drinking water is paramount in preventing further spread. This calls for urgent laboratory testing of suspected food and/or water sources.

He explained that under the IPAN Act Cap. I 16 LFN 2004, formerly Decree No. 100 of 1992, Public Analysts are the only professionals authorised to carry out water and food testing and to confirm their wholesome or otherwise.

“To address this urgent public health crisis, therefore, SoTLAN hereby emphasises the importance of mobilizing Public Analysts to conduct thorough testing of water sources, including wells, boreholes, and municipal supplies (where available) in all the affected areas.

 “Public Analysts in both public and private sectors possess the skills and expertise required to identify and mitigate such contamination or other pre-disposing factors.

“Their involvement is therefore crucial in guiding the ongoing discourse and implementation of remedial measures, including disinfection and provision of safe drinking water and public sensitization to the predisposing factors after analysis.

“SoTLAN is confident that with the proper engagement and support, these professionals can play a key role in containing the outbreak and preventing future occurrences.”

 SoTLAN further called on the government to also facilitate collaboration between the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Water Resources, and Public Analysts to ensure a coordinated and effective response.

They also urged the government to inform the public about the steps being taken and provide guidance on how to protect themselves during this outbreak.

 They also advised Nigerians to take precautions to protect themselves and their families in the meantime by boiling water before use as well as ensuring that all drinking water is boiled or treated before consumption.

The Society said people should practice good hygiene by washing hands thoroughly with soap and clean water, especially before eating or preparing food, and after using the toilet.

“People should also wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating, use only water from safe sources for drinking or washing foods and avoid drinking water from unverifiable sources,  seek immediate medical attention if anyone experiences symptoms of cholera, such as severe nausea, diarrhoea, stooling and vomiting.

He said: “The Society of Testing Laboratory Analysts of Nigeria (SoTLAN) remains committed to supporting the government in addressing this public health issue swiftly and effectively.

“We urge the authorities to act promptly in commissioning Licensed Public Analysts and implementing necessary measures. Together, we can overcome this challenge and ensure the well-being of our communities.”