In 2021, Nigeria lost no fewer than 3,604 persons to Cholera, says the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the country’s infectious disease agency.
The data, which was published on Sunday by the disease centre for Week 52, spanning December 27 till January 2, indicated that Nigeria in 2021 experienced one of the worst cholera outbreaks in many years.
According to the report which ended the epidemiological cycle for 2021, Nigeria, in the year. recorded a total of 111,662 suspected cases of Cholera.
The figure of fatalities from the diarrheal disease in the year is more than the 3,103 deaths recorded from the coronavirus pandemic since its outbreak in Nigeria in February, 2020.
Statistics have shown that Cholera is endemic in Nigeria, with outbreaks reported as far back as the 1970s.
But the 2021 cholera outbreak, with a higher case fatality rate (3.2 per cent) than the previous four years, is worsened by the attention focused on the coronavirus by the government and the neglect suffered by other diseases including Lassa Fever.
While 33 states and the Federal Capital Territory were ravaged by cholera in 2021, only three states did not report suspected cases, the NCDC data showed.
These three states are Anambra, Edo and Imo.
About 435 local governments were affected across the country.
States in Nigeria’s north where flooding and poor sanitation increase the risk of transmission are the hardest hit. The 19 states in the north account for over 90 per cent of the suspected cases.
Four states – Bauchi (19,558 cases), Jigawa (15,141 cases), Kano (12,116 cases) and Zamfara (11,931 cases) – accounted for 53 per cent of all cumulative cases, the NCDC data revealed.
Eleven LGAs across five states of Bauchi (four), Zamfara (four), Kano (one), Katsina (one) and Borno (one) reported more than 1,000 cases each in the year.
Cholera is an acute intestinal infection caused by the Vibrio cholerae bacillus.
The disease spreads through contaminated food and water, reappearing periodically in countries unable to secure access to clean drinking water and adequate sanitation like Nigeria.
It is a preventable and treatable epidemic-prone disease. The number of cholera cases tends to increase with the onset of the rainy season.
The risk of death from cholera is higher when treatment is delayed. It is very important to visit a health facility if you have symptoms such as watery diarrhoea and vomiting.
Cholera is endemic and seasonal in Nigeria, where only 14 per cent of the population of an estimated 206 million have access to safely managed drinking water supply services, according to government data from 2020.
Amid the fight against COVID-19 and Cholera, Nigeria also continues to see regular outbreaks of yellow fever, Lassa fever, measles and other infectious diseases.
In terms of challenges it encountered in fighting cholera in 2021, the NCDC said; “Difficulty in accessing some communities due to security concerns; open defecation in affected communities; lack of potable drinking water in some rural areas and urban slums; inadequate vaccines to cover all LGAs, wards and settlements with cholera outbreaks; inadequate health facility infrastructure and cholera commodities for management of patients (Ringer’s lactate and ORS); inadequate trained personnel in states for case management; and poor and inconsistent reporting from states.”