FG flags off environmental sanitation response to the Cholera outbreak

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ABUJA-THE federal government, Monday, flagged off environmental sanitation response to Cholera outbreak in the country with a call on local government council chairmen not only to engage graduates of Environmental Health as volunteers but also employ more environmental health officers environmental sanitation services.

The flag off of government’s  response activities to the increasing rate of spread of Cholera cases across the country, was meant to sensitize the general public on cholera preventive and control measures to avert further outbreaks and strengthen collaboration with NCDC and other stakeholders in tackling the cholera scourge.

The government, while admitting constraints in the country’s local government areas in terms of limited manpower, however,insisted on the need for the council bosses to “engage graduates of Environmental Health as volunteers for this response.”

Minister of Environment, Dr Mohammad Abubakar,who performed the exercise at the Chief Palace,Bazango Community,in Kubwa,Abuja, expressed happiness that environmental health officers in the states and local governments across the country have intensified their efforts in carrying out sanitary inspection of premises and abatement of nuisances that could result to diseases outbreak such as cholera, Lassa fever, among others.

To this end,he urge “all segments of the society including community associations/leaders, youth/women groups, faith based organisations, religious leaders, traditional leaders, NGOs/CBOs, professional bodies, development partners e.t.c to take sanitation and hygiene issues as their personal and collective community responsibility by getting involved in sanitation and hygiene issues including setting up committees, mobilizing resources, engaging in advocacy and training.”

According to him,”The seriousness government attaches to the outbreak  is underscored by the collaboration and partnership between the Federal Ministry of Environment and other stakeholders including the Bwari Area Council, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Administration,Federal Ministries of Health, Water Resources, Agriculture and Rural Development, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Abuja Environmental Protection Board, various state governments in responding to the scourge.”

 ” Noting that “Nigeria is currently experiencing cholera outbreak in several parts of the country with reported cases of fatalities,”the minister said:”Latest situation report from Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) released on 17TH August, 2021 indicated a total number of 37,498 suspected cases including 1,149 deaths in 24 states and FCT (Benue, Delta, Zamfara, Gombe, Bayelsa, Kogi, Sokoto, Bauchi, Kano, Kaduna, Plateau, Kebbi, Cross River, Niger, Nasarawa, Jigawa, Yobe, Kwara, Enugu, Borno, Kastina, Adamawa, Taraba and FCT, Abuja) with increasing number of new cases in, Zamfara, Bauchi, Kano, Gombe, Plateau, Niger, and Abuja FCT.”

Dr Abubakar explained that:”Cholera which is a sanitation and hygiene enabled disease is an acute diarrhoeal infection caused by ingestion of unwholesome food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholera due to poor personal hygiene, unsafe environmental sanitation conditions compounded by lack of potable water supply.”

“It remains a global threat to public health and affects both children and adults and can kill if untreated.

” It is an extremely virulent disease that takes between 12 hours and 5 days for symptoms to manifest. The symptoms are watery diarrhoea, dehydration, pain in abdomen, nausea, vomiting e.t.c.

“Cholera outbreak is a seasonal public health event in Nigeria, occurring annually mostly during the rainy season and more often in areas with poor sanitation and hygiene practices,”he further explained.

According to him,”Over the years, the Federal Ministry of Environment in collaboration with stakeholders cutting across government at all levels, organized private sector, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), Community Based Organisations (CBOs), academia, development partners, has taken steps to deliver adequate sanitation and hygiene services to the citizenry. “

“These measures include development of policies, regulatory and legislative frame work, implementation of relevant programmes and projects, establishment of relevant regulatory and enforcement agencies e.t.c

“Despite all these efforts, the country continues to suffer from cholera epidemic and other sanitation and hygiene enabled diseases every year.

“This is largely due to our collective behaviour and attitude towards environmental sanitation and hygiene practices which are very poor,”he said.

He spoke further:”This year’s outbreak is very serious and has continued to ravage many states with more fatalities being reported on a daily basis

“In responding to the recent cholera outbreak, the Federal Ministry of Environment immediately activated the sanitation desks in the 36 state ministries of environment and FCT urging them to carry out environmental sanitation activities in their various states aimed at containing the outbreak.”

By: Joseph Erunke

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