Nigeria Mobilizes National Response to Combat Lagos Cholera Outbreak


By: Modupe Adeniyi. Freelance Health Reporter.

Nigeria map showing the location of Lagos State

Nigeria map showing the location of Lagos State. Click on image to enlarge.



WEDNESDAY JULY 3, 2024. On June 15, 2024, health authorities declared an outbreak of cholera in Lagos state. The disease has spread rapidly across all 20 localities of Lagos state, however, the city isn't backing down. Instead, it's rallying its communities, health workers and international partners in a united front against this virulent infection.


"In this critical time, I am also guiding my children on how to live responsibly," says Comfort Ajayi, a mother of three and a Lagos resident. Her words echo the sentiments of many Lagosians who are now at the forefront of this health crisis.


Within just six days of the outbreak declaration, suspected cases jumped from 436 to over 500 with over 43 confirmed cases. The case fatality rate among suspected cases stands at 5.4%, underlining the urgency of the situation.


Professor Akin Abayomi, Lagos State Commissioner for Health, emphasizes the importance of collaboration in tackling this crisis:


"Collaboration with the Ministry of Environment as well as coordination with partners are helping to bolster community sanitation efforts and outbreak control."


The World Health Organization (WHO) has stepped up to play a crucial role in supporting local efforts. Dr. Chinenye Okafor, WHO State Coordinator, outlines their approach:


"Activities such as orientation training, on-the-job mentoring, high-level advocacy and strengthening of surveillance, case management, laboratory, risk communication and community engagement and operations logistics are being enhanced to end the outbreak."


Over 350 field volunteers, including WHO-supported local government facilitators have been deployed. They're not just providing public health education; they're actively searching for cases in health facilities and communities, and mentoring primary health care workers.


The Canadian Government, through its CANGiVE program is funding WHO's community outreach efforts. Additionally, WHO has provided 35 essential emergency community and periphery cholera kits, capable of treating at least 5,250 people.


Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo, WHO Representative in Nigeria, stresses the need for a comprehensive approach:


"Controlling a cholera outbreak requires surveillance, water, sanitation and hygiene measures, risk communication/social mobilization, timely treatment and oral cholera vaccines."


While the immediate focus is on controlling the outbreak, experts emphasize that the long-term solution lies in economic development and universal access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.


The community's response has been encouraging. Basirat Tanimu, a resident of Eti Osa, one of the most affected areas, shares:


"I was skeptical about the appropriate preventive measures for cholera but the health care workers boosted my confidence with the right information. Now, I am constantly advocating to my neighbors on the importance of keeping the environment clean, to keep ourselves and children safe."


As Lagos continues its fight against cholera, the city serves as a powerful example of how communities, when armed with the right information and support, can come together to combat even the most challenging health crises. The battle is far from over, but with every cleaned street, every shared piece of health information, and every treated patient, Lagos moves one step closer to victory.


Source: World Health Organization Newsroom.



Related: Cholera in the African Setting



Published: July 3, 2024

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