Cholera: WHO steps in as outbreak hits Kirikiri Prison in Lagos

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The Lagos State government announced that it is receiving additional support from the World Health Organisation (WHO) to combat a Cholera outbreak at Kirikiri prison.

In a statement released on Sunday by the Director of Public Affairs, Tunbosun Ogunbanwo, Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi, reported an outbreak of 25 cases of severe gastroenteritis caused by Cholera at Kirikiri Medium Security Prison. He added that urgent medical and environmental intervention measures have been successfully implemented.

“We were able to supply Kirikiri medium prison with intravenous fluids, infection prevention and other health consumables. Additionally, the World Health Organization (WHO) has donated 10,000 doses of pharmaceuticals which have been delivered to the prison to support prison health facilities with prevention strategies for about 3,200 inmates if required. Immediate water and sanitation issues have been corrected and there are ongoing inspections of other correctional facilities in the State ” the Commissioner said.

The Lagos State Government has announced a significant improvement in daily Cholera cases from the spike reported two weeks ago but acknowledged evidence of ongoing low-grade community transmission as a few cases are still presenting in hospitals across the state.

Providing further updates on the cholera outbreak following the “One Health” Inter-governmental agency strategic meeting held over the weekend, Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi, revealed that no new cholera-related deaths have been reported in the last 72 hours. The government is intensifying countermeasures to completely eliminate transmission.

Professor Abayomi noted that the reduction in new daily cases and the absence of new deaths indicate that interventions are effective. More importantly, residents are adhering to public health information and advice on safety measures and the need for early presentation to health facilities when symptoms develop.

Addressing the source of the original outbreak two weeks ago, Professor Abayomi disclosed that it has been traced to unregulated street beverages and contaminated water supply. Samples taken from popular street beverages purchased by undercover environmental officers from the Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) and the Ministry of Health in the affected areas confirmed the presence of vibrio cholera bacteria, the cause of Cholera.

“All of the containers had no NAFDAC accreditation numbers, indicating they are small cottage backyard informal production units. Identifying the precise location of manufacture has proven difficult and the directorate of environmental health is planning to seal any such unregulated manufacture and make arrests of anybody involved with the manufacture or distribution of beverages without NAFDAC numbers”, Abayomi said.

He noted that the state government through its interagency “One Health” approach is enforcing environmental health countermeasures, in collaboration with Lagos Water Corporation and sanitation agencies (LAWMA and LASWAMO) to ensure; widespread sanitation activities, inspection and disinfection of boreholes, supplying of potable water to affected local governments, and enforcement and stricter regulations on local beverage manufacturers.

“Henceforth and as approved by Mr Governor, a higher sanitary and regulatory standard of eateries, food handlers, beverage manufacturers and groundwater will be implemented and enforced to curb the burden of food and water-borne diseases in Lagos,” he added.

The commissioner emphasized the need for continued vigilance and adherence to public health precautionary measures. In addition to government interventions, he urged the public to take personal responsibility by consuming safe water, food, and beverages, maintaining good personal hygiene, starting oral rehydration therapy, and immediately seeking medical attention if symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting develop.

He noted that treatment for suspected Cholera remains free of charge in all government hospitals.

Professor Abayomi assured the public that there is no need to panic and expressed optimism that with continued collaboration, vigilance, and commitment from all stakeholders, the state is taking decisive actions to effectively combat and control the spread of cholera, safeguarding the health and well-being of its residents.