Cholera outbreaks ravage Cameroon and Nigeria claiming thousands of lives

CAMEROON – Cameroon has been hit by a surge in cholera cases in the last two weeks in the country’s Southwest region, adding to a public health crisis accompanied by a rise in COVID-19 cases.

This is according to a report by the Regional Delegation of Public Health for Southwest made public on Tuesday.

Five people have been killed and 32 cases confirmed in the region. The report said officials were facing financial, human and material challenges to sustain response activities in the field.

The epidemic occurs in the Southwest in a context of insecurity and humanitarian crisis, with regular movements of population to places where access to safe drinking water and latrines is limited,” United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) tweeted after the report was published.

Cholera is a highly virulent disease characterized in its most severe form by a sudden onset of acute watery diarrhea that can lead to death by severe dehydration.

However, camerron is not the only African country struggling with Cholera attacks. Nearly 94,000 suspected cases of cholera have been recorded in Nigeria between January and October 2021.

At least 3,293 deaths have been recorded, representing a 3.5% case fatality ratio. This year’s outbreak is the worst in over a decade, according to the Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières), an international humanitarian medical non-governmental organisation (NGO).

The organisation said in a publication last week it’s working with Nigeria’s Ministry of Health to try to control the epidemic.

However, amid this seeming humanitarian crisis, 918 primary health care centres in 32 states have remained closed, thereby worsening the plight of the poor who use these facilities.

A report says that 81 of these centres have been closed permanently, while 837 are shut temporarily. PHCs are the first point of contact to keep people well and improve their quality of life.

According to the World Health Organisation, primary health care is the provision of basic essential health services, including preventive, curative, and rehabilitative care.

In Nigeria, about 30,000 PHCs are spread across 9,565 wards in 774 Local Government Areas. With most of them under the control of LG authorities, many are in rural and low-income communities and are the first line of defence for such communities.

Nigeria’s response to the outbreak is led by the NCDC in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), and other partners.

The response includes the promotion of hygiene, provision of safe water, water chlorination, household disinfection, and sensitisation on dangers of open defecation in high-risk communities.

Some of the challenges limiting the government’s response includes inadequate vaccines, and inadequate health facility infrastructure and cholera commodities for management of patients in all affected communities.

Difficulty in accessing some communities due to security concerns, and lack of potable drinking water in rural areas and urban slums have also been significant roadblocks to containing the outbreak.

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