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Multi-sectoral Approach Should Be Considered When Combating Cholera In Northeast Nigeria – MSF

With Bauchi State mostly affected by cholera, MSF has said different dimensions should be practised in bringing the outbreak under control.

Médecins Sans Frontières(MSF)/Doctors Without Borders, an International NGO, has said MSF emergency teams are working alongside the Nigerian Ministry of Health to bring the spiralling cholera outbreak in Bauchi State under control.

Maria Trivisonmo, MSF Medical Coordinator, said in an interview with HumAngle, that the endemic can be preventable if a multi-sectoral approach can be considered in these communities.

This approach, she said, includes the Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) component, with communities having access to clean water and effective rollout of vaccination to these affected communities.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) revealed in a statement that 73 per cent of the diarrhoeal disease is associated with poor access to adequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and only 26.5 per cent of the population use improved drinking water sources and sanitation facilities. Also, 23.5 per cent of the population defecate in the open.

With Bauchi state leading with 19,470 cases of reported cases of cholera on the Nigeria Center For Disease Control (NCDC), the one-dose oral vaccine scheme has been slow due to limited global supply.

“The challenge is prioritising the recipients of the vaccine. The issue is, the needs are huge and the vaccines are few,” Trivisonmo said.

“Without the availability of vaccines, many states in Nigeria have been affected. There is a huge gap between the availability of vaccines and the needs in states which include displaced people, she added.”

Mohammed Dalal,  the Head of mission said that in communities where they campaign against cholera, they work around the beliefs and traditions guiding each of these communities.

“We don’t impose external things that the communities can’t cope with, understand or sustain.  We work with the communities to define their practice,” he said. 

However, to curb the spread of the disease in Bauchi state, 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.

MSF also adopted a community-based approach, taking health care, hygiene measures, and public health information directly to the affected communities. 

In Bauchi state, where MSF set up 19 oral rehydration points and a cholera treatment unit and carried out health promotion and hygiene activities, the organisation stated that mortality rate has been reduced by a factor of ten, from 5 percent to less than 0.5 percent, and the number of new patients being admitted for treatment continues to decline.

To further curb the cholera situation in Bauchi, 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. 

According to WHO, 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.

“Cholera remains a global threat to public health and an indicator of inequity and lack of social development,” WHO said.

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