The Role of Imo Residents and Government Agencies in Curbing the Recent Cholera Outbreak

By Christopher Ononukwe 

Combating cholera outbreak is an important responsibility of all residents of Imo State and not only of Gov Hope Uzodimma and his Administration! Cholera outbreaks pose a serious threat to world health, particularly in areas lacking access to safely managed WASH facilities. 

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has reported thousands of cases and deaths from cholera outbreaks that have occurred in the country over the years, as its records show that the seasonal and endemic illness occurs annually during the rainy season. 

The first recorded cholera outbreaks occurred between 1970 and 1990.  

Imo State reported 28 cases as of June 15, 2024, underscoring the critical need for swift action to contain the outbreak. 

Vibrio cholerae mostly lives in humans, although it may also live in water, mollusks, fish, and aquatic plants. 

The consumption of contaminated food or water is the primary means of faeco-oral transmission of the disease.

 Getting treatment quickly when infected is crucial when cholera is spreading. Depending on the resistance profile, antibiotics can also reduce the length and intensity of symptoms and are a helpful supplementary treatment. 

Though by the recent report released by NCDC, individuals and government institutions, including agencies have been alerted on this cholera, the ways to address this urgent public health crisis need to be more effective and should be capitalized on.

 For example, a number of concrete steps have been initiated by Imo Ministry of Water Resources through Commissioner Ozo Obinna Ogwuegbu to enhance WASH conditions and stop future outbreaks. 

As part of the Shared Prosperity Government's efforts to protect the dignity and health of Imo people, the state government through the Honourable Commissioner for Water Resources has also chosen to employ aggressive Social and Behavioral Change Communication (SBCC) campaigns to sensitize the public about the significance of using safely managed water, sanitation and hygiene in preventing cholera.

 Amongst others, Gov Uzodimma has also directed urgent reactivation of IMSU Water Scheme.

 Following the Commissioner's latest routine audit visit to Otamiri Waterworks, the Acting Managing Director of Imo State Water Board was directed to take necessary steps to procure chemicals for treatment of water to meet quality standards. 

Despite all these proactive measures to prevent and mitigate any outbreak of cholera in the state, Imo residents and other government agencies have their own roles to play. 

Among other practices, good personal hygiene practices, such as regular hand washing with soap, proper disposal of sewage and refuse, and the consumption of safely managed water and food, are crucial in curbing the spread of cholera.

 Stakeholder engagement and education can lead to significant behavioral changes, reducing the disease's transmission. 

Residents should also remain vigilant and report any signs of cholera outbreaks promptly to relevant authorities to ensure quick access to treatment and prevent further spread. 

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