June 20, 2024

Cholera outbreak: NCDC may declare emergency — DG


•Some parents prevent children from resuming school

We have contingency plan — Lagos govt

•We’re okay with steps taken by govt — NUT

By Adesina Wahab

THE Director- General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, NCDC, Dr. Jide Idris, yesterday, disclosed that the centre is considering declaring a state of emergency on cholera if cases recorded go beyond manageable threshold.

Olajide said this during the Adetokunbo Alakija Memorial Travel Medicine Lecture held at Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos, orgainised by the Nigerian Society of Travel Medicine.

The NCDC boss insisted that based on the data that would be obtained from all the partners involved in the assessment, “if they look at the data and they decide that the situation has gone beyond a particular threshold, then we call it an emergency situation.”

He said: “So when they come, when they bring the data, if it has gone beyond a particular threshold, we declare an emergency.

“We have been tracking cholera cases and we are documenting them. For the last two or three weeks, the incidence shot up, with a rising number of deaths and that is why we started investigating and this is where Lagos State came in.”

He, however, warned that prevention and preparation were key to tackling such a disease outbreak.

“We must prepare; prevention means to create the facilities that you will need, the isolation centres, and look at the human resources you have.”

Also speaking, the Special Adviser on Health to the Lagos State governor, Kemi Ogunyemi, said cholera had much to do with the environment and the Ministry of Health had to work with environmental agencies to address the menace.

Ogunyemi said: “It’s all about the environment, it’s about water, it’s about what you eat, it’s about people defecating, and all that is flushed into the drainage system. It’s not just the Ministry of Health, we cannot work in isolation, and we are trying our best. We have programmes – the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene known as WASH. We are trying to get clean water into all (areas), we are looking at pipes that are broken, and the things that are not working, etc.”

Some parents prevent children from resuming school

Meanwhile, some parents, who are concerned about the health of their children, yesterday, prevented their wards from going to school as primary and secondary schools in Lagos State resumed after the mid-term and Sallah break.

Their fear was hinged on the outbreak of Cholera in the state and some parts of the country.

Checks by Vanguard in some parts of Lagos namely Lagos Island, Ajah area and Alimosho showed that some parents did not feel comfortable with the health situation in their communities and asked their wards to hold on.

This came as the Lagos State government and the leadership of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, assured that all was well.

A mother, who gave her name as Esther and who resides in Lagos Island, said she would prefer her children resuming classes next week after observing the trend of things.

She said: “My daughter, who attends a secondary school on the Island won’t resume until next week. I am not okay with the situation of things on the Island. Most people lack potable water and the state of hygiene in most places is bad. To worsen the situation, that is a densely populated area. From what the government has even told the public, it is one of the endemic areas of the disease outbreak.”

Echoing the same feeling, another mother, Abike, who lives in the Agbado area of the state, said there was no point rushing her children back to school.

She said: “Now, we have just a few days left in the week and the issue of cholera outbreak has not been curtailed, why the rush to go back to school? Most schools don’t have clean water sources and for the food vendors allowed to sell to the children; one cannot vouch for their cleanliness, though they were screened before being allowed to work as vendors.”

Vanguard, however, observed that at Nurudeen Adewale Primary School, Agbado and nearby Agbado Junior High School, the number of pupils and students who were present in the morning assemblies was not too encouraging.

A Lagos based radio station, Faaji FM, located in the Agbado  area of the state, in one of its morning programmes, urged parents and guardians to follow the health guides and tips given by the state government regarding steps to curtail and prevent the spread of the disease.

The presenter further advised parents to ensure they prepare the food items and the water their children would take to school.

This is to avoid buying food items from unwholesome sources.

No cause for alarm—Commissioner

When contacted, the Commissioner for Basic Education, Lagos State, Mr Jamiu Alli-Balogun said the resumption of pupils and students went well.

Alli-Balogun said: “Yes, all primary and secondary schools in Lagos State resumed from their break today (Wednesday). Everything went well. We have met with officials of the Ministry of Health and there is no cause for alarm. We are prepared for any eventuality and so far, there has been none.

“It was just a matter of activating all the health measures we put in place when we had the COVID-19 pandemic and from what we have got as reports, a large number of pupils and students resumed as envisaged. The state government is not relenting in combating the cholera scourge or any other that may arise. Our schools are safe for teaching and learning.”

We’re okay with steps taken by govt —NUT

Also speaking, the chairman of the Lagos State Council of NUT, Mr Hassan Akintoye told Vanguard that NUT is satisfied with the steps so far taken by the government in curbing cholera and preventing it from spreading to schools.

Akinloye said: “The state government has always been proactive in situations like these. We are okay with the steps so far taken by them. They have been up to the task. Regarding the attendance today in our schools, we are okay with it too. The pupils and students have been away for about one and a half weeks. Some students would naturally be tired of staying at home and be eager to resume, while some would not.

“Generally speaking, one can say the attendance was fine from reports from our colleagues in schools. As for the fear being expressed by some parents, they should do away with such.

“Whether at home or in school, everybody including parents, should observe hygienic practices to safeguard their health.”