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WHO Intervenes as Cholera Outbreak Strikes Kirikiri Prison in Lagos

 Prof. Akin Abayomi

The Lagos State government has received additional support from the World Health Organization (WHO) to combat a cholera outbreak at Kirikiri prison. During an update on the situation, Commissioner for Health Prof. Akin Abayomi discussed the successful implementation of urgent medical and environmental intervention measures.

Prof. Abayomi reported that the state had provided Kirikiri medium prison with essential medical supplies, including intravenous fluids and infection prevention materials. Furthermore, the WHO has donated 10,000 doses of pharmaceuticals to bolster the prison's health facilities and support preventive measures for about 3,200 inmates if needed.


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Immediate actions to address water and sanitation issues at the prison have been undertaken, with ongoing inspections of other correctional facilities across the state. The commissioner explained that the cholera outbreak in Lagos originated from unregulated street beverages and contaminated water supplies, which were identified as primary sources two weeks prior. Samples collected from street beverages by undercover environmental officers from the Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) and the Ministry of Health confirmed the presence of Vibrio cholerae bacteria, the causative agent of cholera.

The beverages were found to lack NAFDAC accreditation numbers, indicating their production in informal, unregulated settings. The environmental health directorate plans to shut down these unregulated production sites and arrest individuals involved in the manufacture or distribution of beverages without proper accreditation.

Despite the severity of the outbreak, there has been a significant reduction in daily cholera cases since the initial spike reported two weeks ago. Prof. Abayomi noted that while low-grade community transmission continues, evidenced by a few new cases still being reported, no new deaths attributable to cholera have been recorded in the past 72 hours. The government is intensifying efforts to completely eradicate the transmission.

The reduction in new cases and absence of recent deaths suggest that the intervention measures are effective. Prof. Abayomi emphasized the importance of residents adhering to public health advice, practicing safety measures, and seeking healthcare promptly when symptoms appear.

The state government is employing an interagency "One Health" approach, coordinating with the Lagos Water Corporation and sanitation agencies (LAWMA and LASWAMO) to implement environmental health measures. These include extensive sanitation efforts, inspecting and disinfecting boreholes, providing safe drinking water to affected local governments, and enforcing stricter regulations on local beverage manufacturers.


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To curb food and water-borne diseases, the government will enforce higher sanitary and regulatory standards for eateries, food handlers, beverage manufacturers, and groundwater, as approved by the Governor. Prof. Abayomi stressed the importance of ongoing vigilance and compliance with public health precautions. He urged the public to take personal responsibility by consuming safe water, food, and beverages, maintaining good personal hygiene, and seeking immediate medical attention if symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting occur. He reiterated that cholera treatment remains free at all government hospitals.

Prof. Abayomi reassured the public that there is no cause for panic and expressed confidence that through ongoing collaboration, vigilance, and commitment from all stakeholders, the state will effectively combat and control the spread of cholera, thereby safeguarding the health and well-being of its residents.

The Lagos State government’s comprehensive response to the cholera outbreak includes immediate medical intervention, rigorous environmental health measures, and strong community engagement. The cooperation with WHO and other stakeholders demonstrates a robust approach to public health crises, focusing on prevention, treatment, and long-term solutions to prevent future outbreaks. Through these combined efforts, Lagos is making significant strides in managing the current cholera outbreak and ensuring the health and safety of its population. 

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