Lagos State Government has called on nursing mothers and the public generally to observe and maintain adequate personal and environmental hygiene at all times as part of precautionary measures to prevent the outbreak of cholera epidemic in the State.
Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris who made the call on Friday emphasized the need to ensure high standard of hygiene at all times. While urging members of the public to be vigilant and report any suspected case, dead or alive, to the nearest health facility and the directorate of disease control in Ministry of Health explained that cholera is a contagious bacterial disease that is characterized by onset of profuse painless watery stools, nausea and vomiting.
The Health Commissioner added that cholera is acquired through the ingestion of contaminated food or water adding that it can also be transmitted through direct or indirect contamination of water or food by faeces of infected individuals.
“Cholera should be suspected in any person who develops diarrhoea with or without vomiting, weakness, restlessness, irritability, dry mucous membrane, low blood pressure, leg cramps, excessive loss of body fluids (dehydration) or dies from frequent stooling, hence, adequate measures should be taken in order to reduce the risk of contracting the disease”.
The Commissioner listed precautionary measures such as washing of hands with soaps and water frequently and thoroughly; boiling of water before drinking if the source of the water is in doubt; washing of fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating; cooking of food thoroughly before eating; disposing of waste material properly and keeping of water containers clean.
Idris pointed out that in the case of suspected cholera, members of the public should prepare oral re-hydration solution (10 level teaspoonful of sugar and one level teaspoonful of salt in two 35cl bottles); give the suspect a lot of fluids to drink; keeps giving the suspect food as soon as it can be tolerated; and thereafter visit the nearest hospital whether the condition of the suspect improves or not.
“In developing countries like ours, cholera is either endemic or a recurring problem because conditions leading to epidemics exist including presence of peri-urban slums and lack of basic infrastructure. Outbreak of cholera can also occur on seasonal basis in endemic areas”, Idris explained.He advised members of the public to ensure they avoid possible back-flow connection between water and sewer system and stressed the need to boil water before drinking if not sure of the source of the water stressing that nursing mothers should also continue to breastfeed their babies having watery diarrhoea.
“If you have been in contact with a cholera patient, wash your hands thoroughly after touching any item or surface that may have been contaminated and also dispose of contaminated items properly”, the Commissioner said.
Idris noted government has already evolved an inter-ministerial collaboration involving the Ministries of Health, Environment and Information, Lagos State Waste Management Authority and Lagos State Water Corporation adding that health and environmental status assessment of prone communities is on-going.
According to him, emergency preparedness and response (EPR) committees at local government and state levels have been sensitized on preparedness and response to cholera outbreak adding that government has also purchased and distributed to all health centres in local government areas of the state drugs for the management of the disease.
“Healthcare workers in both public and private hospitals are also being sensitized on surveillance and management of cholera, fact sheet and information, enlightenment and communication materials on cholera have been distributed to all health workers in public hospitals while health education and public enlightenment on personal and environmental hygiene in epidemic prone communities have also been intensified”, the Commissioner noted.
He urged health workers to be on the alert and report suspected outbreak of more than fives cases in their facilities to the state Ministry of Health stressing that people can also call the following numbers: 08023169485 or 0802321333 for assistance.
Cholera is a disease spread through the drinking of contaminated water and eating of contaminated food. It is very dangerous and kills within a very short period of time if not treated promptly.