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In a bid to curb the on-going cholera outbreak in Bauchi State and possibly the northeast geopolitical zone of Nigeria, the World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with health authorities in Bauchi state has deployed Oral Cholera Vaccine (OCV) in combination with other community control measures to stop the transmission of the disease and save lives. A total of 710,212 persons one year and above have been vaccinated with the OCV in the five-day reactive campaign that ended on 28 July 2021 in the first cycle. The second and the final cycle will soon commence after 2 weeks for the same persons.
To flag-off the vaccination campaign, the State Governor, H.E. Senator Bala Mohammed directed the provision of free treatment for all victims of the disease and to consolidate on the gains already achieved, he pledged the sum of 25 million naira to further support interventions in the areas of risk communication and infection prevention and control measures.
He further expressed his gratitude to partners, saying, “We thank our development partners for their prompt response to the call for action against the outbreak.”
WHO had facilitated the release of 1,565,558 doses of the cholera vaccine to the State.
Cholera is an acute bacterial infection associated with profuse diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration and death. Cholera is spread mainly by faecal contamination of water and food and is closely linked to poor sanitation and lack of clean drinking water.
Bauchi state recorded its first confirmed case on 24 April 2021 from a 37-year-old Woman in Magami community of Burra ward in Ningi local government area (LGA). So far, the state has recorded 9,091 cases and has the highest number of cases among the 17 states which reported cases country. Meanwhile Bauchi LGA has the highest burden of the outbreak in the state with 6,273 (69%) of all reported cases and 43% (37) of the total deaths.
With the increase in confirmed cholera cases in the state, WHO supported Bauchi State in building capacity of 57 LGA Disease Surveillance and Notification officers (DSNOs) as well as Assistant DSNOs, 500 health care workers and distributed cholera management guidelines, protocols and information, education and communication (IEC) materials which was used to sensitize the affected communities.
The DSNO of Bauchi LGA, Abdullahi Suleiman, one of those trained mitigating and addressing the cholera outbreak said, “there is no doubt case detection and reporting was low prior to the training of health workers. We had less than 2000 cases in the LGA then. However, after the training the rate of case detection and reporting rose to over 6000 cases. There is also evidence to suggest case detection has substantially increased across the state as well. The training has indeed made a difference in our capacity as health workers”.
Meanwhile, a resident of of Turum in Bauchi LGA, one of the hardest hit settlements and a beneficiary of the house-to-house sensitization campaign, Mallam Sani Garba said the risk information has enabled him to put in place, mechanism that is protecting him and his family from the outbreak.
“I feel so empowered and so protected after being educated about the causes and preventive measures of cholera from health workers and other community volunteers.
In my neighborhood many families were infected with some persons dying due to our lack of awareness on the causes and safety measures. However, today the rate of infection has gone down significantly due to adherence to the lifesaving messages on the prevention of the disease”.
Similarly, Hajiya Mairo, a housewife and mother of 3 children said “I was so apprehensive of the safety of my children from the cholera outbreak because it is all around us. However, the cholera vaccination has changed all that now. I that feel my children and I are really protected against this deadly disease.”
On his part, the Emir of Bauchi, HRH. Dr Rilwanu Suleiman Adamu assured that he will continue to work with all traditional and religious leaders to raise community awareness and increase the vaccine uptake in order to overcome the outbreak.
“We commend WHO for facilitating the release of the vaccines and we are committed to utilize them in line with international coordinating group (ICG) guidelines. We have lost many lives and this vaccine has come at a time we are dire need of a life saving intervention”. This was disclosed by the Executive Chairman Bauchi State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, (BSPHCDA) during the flag off of the OCV campaign.
Speaking on the vaccination, the WHO Northeast Zonal Coordinator – NEZ, Dr Haruna Adamu said WHO in collaboration with NPHCDA and GAVI, facilitated the release of about 1.5 million doses of oral cholera vaccine (OCV) from the international coordinating group (ICG) to Bauchi state.
ICG obliged the Bauchi state request for OCV in view of the high burden of the disease and mortality rate.
Meanwhile other states in the zone are yet to issue a formal outbreak declaration even though pockets of cases have been recorded. WHO has, nonetheless collaborated with the states to preposition cholera sample collection kits as well as supported in the development of outbreak response plans.
The key areas of WHO support to the states in the northeast “cuts across a variety of technical areas. We are supporting states in areas of outbreak investigation, coordination, surveillance, risk communication, data management and in the supervision and monitoring of the on-going OCV campaign in Bauchi” the WHO Zonal Coordinator added.
However, to curb the spread of the disease in Bauchi state, the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has set up isolation and treatment camps in 2 locations in the state – Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Teaching Hospital and Toro General Hospital. All severe cases are referred to these locations while mild cases are managed in General Hospitals in the other LGAs without MSF presence.
Cholera remains a global threat to public health and indicator of inequity and lack of social development. WHO estimates that every year there are roughly 1.3 to 4 million cases, and 21,000 to 143,000 deaths globally due to cholera. Symptoms include among others, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting and dehydration.