Cholera is a water-borne and feco-oral disease that occurs in the rainy season but now, in this out-going dry season, the cases of the disease has been reported in many states of the federation. In 2021, the first cases of cholera were recorded in some area councils of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja earlier in the year when about 31,430 cases had also been recorded across the country in the first seven months of the year with more than 800 deaths. Out of the 36 states of the federation and the FCT, Abuja, 27 states had recorded cholera cases.

Cholera is a disease that is generally associated with dirt, filthy conditions and the intake of unwholesome food items and contaminated water. It kills its victims fast if not treated early as the causative organism, vibrio cholerae, is a bacterium that attacks the walls of the intestines and goes ahead to cause acute and severe gastro-intestinal disorders which include diarrhoea, cramps and abdominal pains, nausea, vomiting and general dehydration, among other clinical presentations, which usually result in death if not treated with dispatch.

This is why the disease has been recognised globally as one of the most serious public health concerns wherever it occurs, and which the local health authorities are expected to report immediately to the higher health authorities including the World Health Organisation for further remedial actions. That the disease occurs in the peak of dry season is surprising. This is why we need to check further multiplication of causative organism of cholera now before more harm is done.

Since this demeaning and debasing disease occurs as a result of the intake of contaminated water and unwholesome food materials that contain some faecal matters, cholera usually occurs during the rainy season as the faecal matters that are usually deposited in upland areas during the dry season by some members of the public who engage in open defecation are usually carried to sources of water supply by flowing water during rainfalls. This is why it may not be incorrect here to indicate that cholera is a disease that occurs in the rural areas that lack potable water and where people do not observe personal and food hygiene in their daily lives.

In Nigeria, as in many other parts of the developing world, there are places where potable water supply does not exist. In these rural places, people resort to drinking all manner of water that is available to them. If there are no wells, hand-pumped water or boreholes, streams and other safe water sources that serve the drinking-water purposes of the community, residents go straight to the nearest unsafe water sources and ponds to fetch water to drink and, in doing this, many of such people could come in contact with vibrio cholerae bacterium if they do not boil and filter such water and a good number might contract cholera in the process. It is, therefore, important to stress that the availability of potable water, proper environmental cleanliness and strict observance of food and personal hygiene at all times will always ensure that people do not contract cholera wherever they reside, whether in the dry or rainy season.

So, as we enter the rainy season in Nigeria with the early rains already recorded in some parts, it behoves all Nigerians, individually and collectively, to ensure that we do not drink water from questionable sources. Water fetched from shallow wells, ponds, paddies and streams that do not flow well should be boiled and filtered before drinking. This will ensure that all the pathogenic organisms contained in such water are killed so that the water becomes safe. This is equivalent to saying that, to a very large extent, we can individually contribute towards the control and containment of cholera that occurs frequently in our midst. We can also ensure that we do not engage in promiscuous defecation within our immediate environments.

This translates to mean that every household should provide sanitary conveniences including toilet facilities for use by the occupiers of such premises in addition to sanitary disposal of domestic refuse. This is what the Public Health Law provides and must be obeyed.

At this juncture, it might be necessary to call on the environmental health officers in our midst to live up to their professional responsibility of carrying out routine house-to-house, sanitary inspection of all premises in the country with a view to ascertaining the ones that lack adequate sanitary conveniences in them and go ahead to prosecute the defaulting landlords after such landlords have failed to provide the conveniences, in keeping with the provisions of the Public Health Law. It is unfortunate that cholera has continued to kill Nigerians nearly every year through drinking unwholesome water and eating contaminated food items.

On their own part, the three tiers of government in Nigeria should always do their best to provide the people with potable and wholesome water to drink. These governments should re-activate all the water schemes that have been abandoned in many parts of the country and establish new ones. With safe water, observance of food hygiene and clean environment, there will be reduction in cholera cases and other water-borne diseases in our midst.

It is only in this way that we will, collectively and individually, contribute towards ensuring that the bacterium, vibrio cholerae, that brings about the outbreaks of the cholera disease in many parts of the country will be eliminated from our environment. Indeed, we should collectively do all we can to protect public health by improving on cholera control measures to avoid its outbreaks in particular so that the lives we lose every year because of the disease will be saved.


Graphic Designer/ Content Writer

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