The Federal Ministry of Water Resources on Tuesday called for strengthened coordination from all partners to prevent cholera deaths, as over 3,598 deaths were recorded in 2021 in the country.
The Data received from the Cholera Situation Report for 2021 revealed that the age group of five to 14 years were the most affected, with Bauchi, Jigawa, Kano State and Zamfara leading.
This was the thrust at the National Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in Emergency Group Meeting in Abuja, with participation from line ministries and development partners.
Emmanuel Awe, Director, Water Quality Control and Sanitation with the ministry, said it was worrisome that cholera deaths still occurred in many parts of the country.
He noted that there was no doubt that humanitarian assistance was of cardinal importance for victims of emergencies, with assistance in an organized and coordinated manner.
“In 2021, Nigeria reported cholera cases as of December 6, 2021 was 107,911 with 3,598 deaths which exceeded the number of cases reported in 2020 of 1,858 cases and 95 deaths.
“These figures are not acceptable, the number of deaths from cholera was actually less than COVID-19, waterborne diseases are actually preventable, and all we need to do is to ensure that our people have access to clean and safe potable water at all times.
“Cases have been reported from 341 local government areas in 29 states including the conflicted states in the northeast and crisis-affected northwest region.
“These reports of resurgence of cholera in states and in the FCT is a worrisome public health crisis, especially coming amid the emergence of the highly infectious Omicron, showing the third wave of COVID-19 cases”.
Awe said improving access to WASH services could reduce illness and deaths, affect poverty reduction and socioeconomic development improve health, economy, life expectancy among others.
He said the meeting was an avenue to brainstorm on ways to see that cholera cases were brought to barest minimum in 2022 through coordinated collaboration.
This, he noted, had already begun with the engagement of a national consultant who would assist the National WASH in Emergency Technical Group and an upcoming training to contain cholera preparedness and management.
The Director, while thanking UNICEF for its role in leadership and support, said the renewed commitment of all stakeholders was needed.
Jane Bevan, UNICEF Chief of WASH, said it was shocking that cholera cases was higher than COVID-19 in 2021, calling for renewed coordination from all key stakeholders.
“UNICEF is working very closely with the Ministries of Water Resources, Health and Environment to build coordination around cholera response, because this is where we noticed some of the gaps.
“If we can build up the coordination in every state, particularly in those hit by cholera, we will have better response for those still ongoing and for any new outbreak as the rains come in later this year”.
Oumar Doumbouya, UNICEF WASH Manager, said updating the National and States Cholera preparedness and response plans and costs was needed.
He said this would help as an advocacy tool to aid planning and budgetary allocations, adding that political will from all states and partners was critical.