The judgement has been delivered and the verdict is as unsavory as it is grim. Nigeria remains vulnerable to further cholera outbreaks, several health officials have concluded. And as things stand in the country, the future continues to be bleaker, as the nation’s rising population density and poor sanitation continue to grow.
Just when the official report from Plateau State claimed that only eight people were killed by cholera in Namu village, the acting district head has said that the actual number of the deceased was 30. Alhaji Abubakar Sadiq,said that the number had been down-played, revealing that most of those killed were women. “I can count over 10 of the indigenes that have died from this disease including my brother’s wife, my neighbour and her daughter,” Sadiq was quoted to have said.
But, an official of the Disease, Surveillance and Notification of Quan Pan Local Government Area, currently overseeing Namu, Damar Wapnan, was reported to have contradicted Sadiq, saying “what is presently on record is that we have nine deaths and 68 cases. As of last week, we recorded 61 cases with eight deaths but since yesterday, we recorded new cases bringing the total to 68 and another death which raised the mortality figure to nine.”
In Zamfara State, hospital records showed that so far, over 536 cases have been recorded since the outbreak of the disease, according to the Chief Medical Director, Shagari Hospital, Dr Labaran Lawan Anka.
The state’s acting governor, Sanusi Garba Rikiji, attributed the cholera outbreak to the burst water pipes in Gusau and its environs. It is on record that the acting governor said the outbreak was “due to the ongoing rehabilitation and construction works in parts of Gusau, where some water pipes were damaged, causing the water to be contaminated. Some residents drank the contaminated water out of ignorance of the danger associated with such practice.”
Earlier on Thursday, last week, three people were of 13 reported cases confirmed dead by the Health Commissioner, Jide Idris, in the wave of cholera outbreak that hit Lagos State.
Before the end of the day, more than 20 people were alleged to have died. The worst affected areas in the state included Apapa, Ajegunle, Surulere, Oshodi, and Lagos Island, according to Idris.
Osun, Ogun and Oyo have had their own tales of woe following cholera outbreaks and health officials are worried that the epidemic is not showing signs of abating.
Although Nigeria is currently being placed under the blinding glare of the world’s spotlight, just recently, other African nations suffered the same outbreak and if the World’s Health Organisation (WHO)’s prediction could be believed, Africa is in for cholera’s long haul. In its cholera epidemiological analysis conducted recently, WHO said cholera remains a major public health issue in Africa. The body said that between January 1 and June 3 this year, “a total of 25, 762 cholera cases and 490 deaths were reported from 18 countries resulting in a CFR of 1.9 per cent.”And this is happening in a country with an estimated 174 million people and a GDP of US$478 billion.