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Lagos announces WHO intervention as cholera outbreak hits Kirikiri prison

The Lagos State Government has announced it is receiving additional support from the World Health Organisation (WHO) in its battle against a cholera outbreak at Kirikiri Prison. 

This comes as the outbreak has been traced to unregulated street beverages and contaminated water supplies.

A statement released on Sunday by the Director of Public Affairs, Tunbosun Ogunbanwo, quoted the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Akin Abayomi, confirming that 25 cases of severe gastroenteritis caused by cholera had occurred at Kirikiri Medium Security Prison. 

Abayomi highlighted the urgent medical and environmental intervention measures that have been successfully implemented.

The WHO intervention 

“We have supplied Kirikiri Medium Prison with intravenous fluids, infection prevention materials, and other health consumables.” 

“Additionally, the World Health Organization has donated 10,000 doses of pharmaceuticals to support the prison health facilities, benefiting approximately 3,200 inmates if required. 

“Immediate water and sanitation issues have been corrected, and ongoing inspections of other correctional facilities in the State are being conducted,” the Commissioner said.

The Lagos State Government also reported a significant improvement in daily cholera cases from the spike observed two weeks ago. 

However, it acknowledged evidence of ongoing low-grade community transmission as a few cases are still being presented at hospitals across the state.

Providing further updates on the cholera outbreak following the “One Health” inter-governmental agency strategic meeting held over the weekend, Abayomi revealed that no new cholera-related deaths have been reported in the last 72 hours. 
The government is intensifying countermeasures to eliminate transmission.
Abayomi noted that the reduction in new daily cases and the absence of new deaths indicate that interventions are yielding results. 

Addressing the source of the original outbreak, Abayomi disclosed that it had been traced to unregulated street beverages and contaminated water supplies. 

He explained that samples taken from popular street beverages by undercover environmental officers from the Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) and the Ministry of Health in the affected areas confirmed the presence of Vibrio cholerae bacteria, which causes 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.

The state government, through its interagency ‘One Health’ approach, is enforcing environmental health countermeasures in collaboration with the Lagos Water Corporation and sanitation agencies (LAWMA and LASWAMO). 

This includes widespread sanitation activities, inspection and disinfection of boreholes, supplying potable water to affected local governments and enforcing stricter regulations on local beverage manufacturers.

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

The commissioner emphasized the need for continued vigilance and adherence to public health precautionary measures. 

He urged the public to take personal responsibility for consuming safe water, food, and beverages, maintaining good personal hygiene, starting oral rehydration therapy, and seeking immediate medical attention if symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting develop.

Abayomi also assured that treatment for suspected cholera remains free of charge in all government hospitals.


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