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Cholera: Physicians task schools, parents on personal, environmental hygiene

Two Lagos-based Physicians have urged parents and schools’ management to maintain optimal hygiene to avoid the spread of cholera.

Nyanya-Gbagyi Primary School
Students of Nyanya-Gbagyi Primary School, New Nyanya, Nasarawa State

They gave the advice in an interview on Tuesday, June 18, 2024, in Lagos, following the outbreak of cholera in the state and some states across the country.

According to them, this is necessary since most schools will resume from mid-term break and the Sallah holiday on Wednesday.

On June 9, 2024, the Lagos State Government declared a cholera outbreak as reported by the Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) on June 12.

According to the EOC, 324 suspected cholera cases have been reported in the state, including 15 people who died.

A General Physician Consultant, Dr Gerald Chinasa, said the disease could spread fast in schools if preventive measures were not in place.

Chinasa said that pupils, particularly the younger ones, were at higher risk of contracting cholera, a food and water-borne disease caused by the ingestion of the vibrio cholera bacteria.

He advised that parents should be more conscious of how they prepared and packaged their children’s foods, saying that proper personal and environmental hygiene should always be maintained.

According to him, parents should ensure that the cooking utensils, lunch box and cutleries among others are properly washed and rinsed with clean running water.

He suggested the option of giving bottled water to the pupils instead of sachet water while going to school, saying that cholera could easily be contracted through contaminated foods and water.

For the schools, Chinasa reiterated the need for proper environmental sanitation and personal hygiene particularly after using the restroom, within classrooms and at playing grounds.

He emphasised the need for existence running tap water with standby soap for hand washing at strategic points within the school premises.

“For pupils that are very young, their hygiene starts from homes; parents should underscore the importance of personal hygiene particularly when preparing and packaging their foods.

“Parents should ensure that cooking utensils, lunch box and cutleries are properly washed and rinsed under running water.

“In schools, environment and personal hygiene are also key.

“The rest room should be constantly cleaned and sanitised. Regular hand washing at key moments like after using restroom, before and after eating, should be encouraged,” he said.

Contributing, a Consultant Family & Lifestyle Medicine Physician, Dr Moyosore Makinde, cautioned against consumption of contaminated foods and water to avoid contracting cholera infection.

Makinde, also the President of Society of Lifestyle Medicine of Nigeria (SOLONg), said that consumption of contaminated foods and water remained the major means through an individual could contract cholera.

According to her, highly dedicated personal hygiene, which entails safe drinking water and consumables remain the only means to prevent contraction of cholera.

“Cholera is transmitted through food and water that are contaminated with a bacteria called Vibrio Cholerae.

“The recommendations for prevention include hand hygiene, particularly hand washing at key moments after using the toilet and before eating.

“Boiling of drinking water and use of treated water for cooking are also essential.

“Individuals should avoid eating raw food or undercooked foods like seafood and vegetables. Fruits should be thoroughly washed before consumption.

“Environmental sanitation is a critical factor as well, which entails proper disposal of human waste and cleaning of drainages. And the cholera vaccine can also be administered to prevent infection,” Makinde said.

By Lilian U. Okoro

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