Eight hundred and sixteen people have died of cholera in Nigeria between January and the end of July this year, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) announced on Monday.
The Centre blamed the outbreaks and deaths on poor sanitation and access to potable water by people in the country.
About 31,425 suspected and 311 confirmed cases of the disease were recorded in 22 of the nation’s 36 states, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The states are Benue, Delta, Zamfara, Gombe, Bayelsa, Kogi, Sokoto, Bauchi, Kano, Kaduna, Plateau, Kebbi, Cross River, Niger and Nasarawa.
Others are Jigawa, Yobe, Kwara, Enugu, Adamawa, Katsina, Borno and the FCT.
Nigeria’s confirmed cholera cases so far this year are over 300 per cent more than what the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control reported for 31 countries under its watch between 2014 and 2018.
The Centre recorded 102 cases of cholera at the time, with the United Kingdom recording most of the cases.
In a statement mailed to The ICIR, NCDC said it had activated the National Cholera Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) across the most affected states to carry out emergency interventions, including the administration of reactive oral cholera vaccine (OCV).
But it said none of the medical interventions would solve the underlying issues leading to cholera outbreaks.
“Cholera is a waterborne disease, and the risk of transmission is higher when there is poor sanitation and disruption of clean water supply. The wrong disposal of refuse and practices such as open defecation endanger the safety of water used for drinking and personal use.
“These lead to the spread of waterborne diseases such as cholera. Nigeria remains at risk of cholera cases and deaths without proper water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). The long-term solution for cholera control lies in access to safe drinking water, maintenance of proper sanitation and hygiene,” NCDC said.
According to the United Nations Population Fund, only 26.5 per cent of Nigeria’s population use improved drinking water sources and sanitation facilities.
About 23.5 per cent of people in the country defecate in the open, the agency noted.
The World Bank said in 2019 that approximately 60 million Nigerians lived without access to basic drinking water services, and 80 million without access to improved sanitation facilities.
There were 167 million people in the country at the time without access to a basic handwashing facility.
In rural areas, 39 per cent of households lack access to at least basic water supply services.
According to the bank, only a half of people in rural communities have access to improved sanitation and almost a third (29 per cent) practise open defecation.
Due to poor sanitation and access to potable water, cholera has been an endemic and seasonal disease in Nigeria.
The NCDC reported in 2019 that the disease occurred in the country annually, mainly during the rainy season and more often in areas with poor sanitation.
The country reported its first series of cholera outbreaks between 1970 and 1990.
Major epidemics also occurred in 1992, 1995-1996, and 1997.
The Federal Ministry of Health reported 37,289 cases and 1,434 deaths between January and October 2010, while 22,797 cases of cholera with 728 fatalities and case-fatality rate of 3.2 per cent were recorded in 2011.
The country also recorded outbreaks of the disease in 2018, with the NCDC reporting 42,466 suspected cases, including 830 deaths.
There was a case fatality rate of 1.95 per cent from 20 out of 36 states from the beginning of 2018 to October 2018.