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Govt begins water quality analysis to curtail cholera outbreak

The Federal Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation has initiated a water quality analysis following a cholera outbreak that has resulted in the deaths of 30 people across several states.

Prof Joseph Utsev
Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Prof. Joseph Utsev

Alhaji Aliyu Shinkafi, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, who made the disclosure, said on Thursday, June 20, 2024, that this was necessary following continued reports of outbreak in many parts of the country.

According to him, the ministry’s concern highlights the severity of the waterborne disease, which is caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae and spreads rapidly through contaminated water or food.

He said the symptoms of cholera include vomiting, severe dehydration, and diarrhea, which can be fatal if not treated promptly.

“In response to the outbreak, teams from the National Water Quality Reference Laboratories in Lagos, Enugu, and Sokoto have been dispatched to collect water samples and investigate the presence of Vibrio cholerae in the affected areas.

“Additionally, the ministry is coordinating with State Technical Working Groups and Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agencies (RUWASSAs) through the WASH in Emergency Technical Working Group (WiETWG) to address the outbreak comprehensively.”

Shinkafi said that, before the outbreak, the National WASH in Emergency Technical Working Group had already trained state working groups on preparedness, prevention, and response strategies, as well as hygiene promotion and water safety planning.

These states, he said, have now intensified their community sensitisation efforts to reduce cholera cases and are promoting campaigns against open defecation, a known transmission route for the disease.

He, however, urged Nigerians to take precautions to protect themselves and their families by boiling or treating drinking water before consumption.

The permanent secretary called on all Nigerians to wash hands with soap under clean, running water regularly, especially before eating and after using the toilet.

He said the ministry would continue to provide updates in collaboration with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) as the situation evolves.

“Let’s wash fruits and vegetables with safe water and salt before eating.

“Let’s also seek medical attention immediately if experiencing symptoms of cholera, such as vomiting, severe dehydration, and diarrhea.

“Together, we can overcome this challenge and prevent further loss of lives.”

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention is quoted as saying that “as of 11 June 2024, 1,141 suspected cholera cases had been recorded across 30 states in Nigeria since January 2024.’’

The 10 states that recorded 90 per cent of the cases are mostly located in the South (Bayelsa, over 400 cases, Lagos, Abia, Cross River, Delta, Imo States), with some situated further north (Katsina, Nasarawa, Zamfara).

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