Thursday, May 13

After 61 Deaths, Cholera Outbreak In Borno Finally Over

The cholera outbreak which has plagued Internally Displaced Persons, IDP camps in Borno State for the past five months is finally over, the World Health Organisation, WHO, said.

The outbreak began in August on the outskirts of Maiduguri, and quickly spread through several camps for internally displaced persons and host communities.

By December 19, about 5,365 suspected cases had been reported, including 61 deaths.

The World Health Organisation in a statement released on Friday said the country has successfully contained a five-month cholera outbreak in conflict-affected Borno state.

This feat was achieved with support from the WHO and other health partners.

According to the international health agency, the government had also announced the end of the outbreak on December 21 after two weeks had passed with no new cases.

There were also reported cases of cholera in other states. But they were promptly tackled and did not last long like that of Borno.

Muhammad Ghuluze, Director of Emergency Response, Borno State Ministry of Health, said Borno State was able to move to quick action to control the outbreak with the support of WHO and other health actors.

“With that strong resolve to limit mortality and morbidity, this was achieved, and we can say that we have succeeded,” he said

He said a major Oral Cholera Vaccine, OCV campaign, contributed to the effort – the first of its kind in Nigeria.

According to WHO, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the International Coordinating Group, ICG, provided 1.8 million OCV doses to immunise 900,000 people in two rounds between September and December this year.

“Following an initial spike in cases, the number of new infections dropped significantly after the vaccination campaign concluded,” it stated.

Wondimagegnehu Alemu, WHO Representative in Nigeria, said containing cholera in the midst of an ongoing conflict is a major accomplishment.

“No single measure would have worked on its own. This was a joint effort employing a range of tools by many partners under the leadership of the State Ministry of Health.”

Mr. Alemu explained that an early warning and surveillance system supported by WHO was critical to providing data on suspected cases in different locations.

He also said partnerships with local media helped to ensure that people in affected and neighbouring communities were aware of the risk of cholera, how it is spread, how to prevent it, and the importance of seeking treatment when they experience the symptoms.

Mr. Alemu said while the achievements of the cholera programme in Borno State are good, cholera is endemic to North-eastern Nigeria and future outbreaks remain likely.

He warned that the country still needs to be vigilant to the warning signs that could signal another outbreak of cholera or other epidemic-prone diseases.

The health agency lamented that due to the conflict, many people in North-eastern Nigeria have not had access to basic healthcare and routine immunization for years, and health conditions in many camps for internally displaced persons are sub-standard.

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