(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –Nigeria is dealing with a cholera outbreak that has infected over 16,000 people, including 186 reported deaths, according to Nigeria’s Center for Disease Control (NCDC).
A cholera infection causes severe diarrhea and dehydration that can lead to death if not treated properly. It spreads through contaminated food or water.
Halima Adamu, a mother of six, recently lost her husband during a cholera outbreak in Mpape Village in Abuja’s suburbs. Halima says no one knew what was wrong with him.
“We tried all we could to treat my late husband but he kept throwing up and defecating, losing severe fluids, and he eventually passed away. We later found out he died of cholera,” she said.
Many rural communities in Nigeria are at risk of a cholera outbreak because they are densely populated with makeshift drainage filled with dirty water. The United Nations estimates that over 110 million Nigerians lack access to improved sanitation, while over 70 million lack access to safe drinking water.
Experts from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja’s primary health center, went to Mpape to sensitize residents of the community to the threat. Residents at high risk for infection are taught how to identify symptoms of cholera and report early to hospital for treatment. Those not affected are taught to observe basic hygiene including hand washing.
“It’s a very poor community and poverty is also directly or indirectly related to cholera outbreaks. But again it’s very, very important for the community members themselves to change their mindsets, and pay a lot of attention to their personal hygiene and environmental sanitation. The government can’t do everything for us,” said Ramatu Abdu-Aguye, an official at FCT Primary Health Center.
Although residents of the community have been taught how to prevent the further spread of cholera, an earlier intervention may have prevented the loss that Halima and her family have suffered. — Reuters