Cholera outbreak and Govt proactive intervention. By Tunde Akanbi
According to a phase, a stitch in time saves nine.
This praise means it is better to act sooner than later.
The recent outbreak of cholera disease in Ilorin, the KWARA state capital and the immediacy the state government attached to the outbreak is well commendable.
The outbreak was initially like a suspected cholera not until it was confirmed on the twenty ninth of May when the Chief Medical Director in charge of the children specialist hospital in Ilorin , Doctor Fakayode raised an alarm of various cases of Gastroenteritis which they have been treating and they now suspect cholera due to the signs and symptoms they have discovered.
A consultant Epidemiologist in Ilorin also confirmed that his hospital recorded sixty (67) cases in a space of two weeks.
Cholera is a water-borne disease which goes hand in hand with poverty.
Clinically, there has been confirmed cases of the disease coupled with laboratory results.
The state government immediately swung into action with the secretary to the state government, Alhaji Isaika Sola Gold leading a powerful team of medical personnel including the state commissioner for health, Alhaji Atolagbe Alege on a first hand visit to some hospitals in the state which has confirmed cases of cholera.
The visit no doubt was a eye opener to the government that truly, there was an outbreak of cholera.
The state governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed immediately directed that the state ministry of Water Resources and the Ministry of Environment should provide water to some specific areas that lack water and all refuse dumps should be evacuated.
No doubt, the state government deserves to be commended for its quick response and pro-activeness though more enlightenment campaign and provision of the needy must be put in place to permanently nip the disease on the bud so as not to scare away investors and not to increase the mortality rate.
Cholera disease is associated mostly with drinking unclean water and living in an untidy environment, hence the provision of safe water and sanitation is critical to control the transmission of cholera and other waterborne diseases.
The disease is an acute diarrhea that can kill within hours if left untreated and can be successfully treated with Oral Rehydration Solution (ORT) while several other cases will need rapid treatment with intravenous fluids and antibiotics.
Cholera which is an extremely virulent disease remains a global treat to public health and an indicator of inequity and lack of social development.
For instance, presently in Yemen, the war ravaged country in the Middle East, over one thousand children have been reported dead since April this year from the epidemic.
It takes between twelve hours to five days for a person to show symptoms after infesting contaminated food or water and it affects both children and adults.
Researchers have estimated that every year, there are roughly one point three to four point zero cases and twenty one thousand to one hundred and forty three thousand death world wide due to cholera.
Unlike some other diseases which causes are not known, cholera transmission is closely linked to inadequate access to clean water and sanitation facilities.
Similarly, disruption of water and sanitation or the displacement of population to inadequate and over crowded camps can increase the risk of cholera transmission.
For control and prevention, a combination of surveillance, water, sanitation and hygiene, social mobilization, treatment and oral cholera vaccines are used.
Like what is been done now in the state under the supervision of the State Epidemologist, Doctor Khadijat Kamaldeen,the government has embarked on an integrated disease surveillance that includes feedback at the local level as all the local government disease surveillance and notification officers have been put on red alert about the outbreak to report such incident at the ministry headquarters and information sharing at the State level.
Some medical experts are of the view that mass administration of antibiotics is not recommended as it has no proven effect on the spread of cholera and contributes to the increasing anti microbial resistance.
They also advised that breast feeding should be promoted among our nursing mothers while health education campaign such as hand washing with soap, safe preparation and storage of food and safe disposal of feces should be encouraged.
Members of the public need to be hygiene conscious.
Residents of the state particularly the rural dwellers need to be told to keep a clean environment and drink clean water but definitely, the government has a major role to play by making water to flow in all nooks and crannies of the state and ensure that refuse dumps are evacuated regularly .
Mostly hit by the cholera outbreak are those residing in the communities that lack portable drinking water or modern toilet facilities and not those residing in the Government Reservation Areas ( GRA) that have boreholes and other standard facilities hence the need for those residing in the communities who are prune to all sorts of waterborne diseases to be properly taken care of.
There is hardly any hospital in Ilorin that did not record a case of the disease hence the immediate intervention of the state government is so timely and apt.
Definitely, there has been reported cases of death in the state at either private health facilities or government hospitals and this therefore calls for more greater attention and synergy between officials of the state ministry of health and private hospital owners on how best to tackle outbreak of diseases such as cholera that is contagious.
Some useful hints about basic cholera prevention is that one should ensure that he or she uses latrines or bury their feces , avoid defeating in any open space, cook food well especially seafoods and wash fruits and vegetables properly before consumption.
Similarly, one should remove and wash any bedding or clothing that may have had contact with diarrhea, preferably in a washing machine while personal hygiene is also very key.
However, allaying the fears of residents of the state on the cholera outbreak, the state commissioner for Health, Alhaji Atolagbe Alege who initially expressed concern and worry over the outbreak has now assured that the state government has combed all parts of the state with the aim of eliminating the disease.