Cholera spread: Fear of school outbreak rises as pupils resume.

As the schools resume from the mid-term break and the Sallah holiday on Wednesday, there are fears the pupils may be at risk of contracting cholera, a food and water-borne disease caused by the ingestion of the vibrio cholera bacteria.

Public health experts noted that the disease, which broke across the country last week, could spread fast in schools if preventive measures were not in place to prevent it.

Against this background, the Chief of UNICEF, Lagos Field Office, Celine Lafoucrier, has called for extensive measures to protect school children, noting that concerted efforts must be made to prevent disruption in the academic calendar over the spread of the disease.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention had recently warned the public of the increasing trend of cholera cases as the rainy season intensifies.

The NCDC stated that from January 1 to June 11, 2024, over 1,141 suspected and over 65 confirmed cases of cholera, resulting in over 30 deaths, had been reported from 96 LGAs in 30 states.

The centre noted that the 10 states contributing 90 per cent to the burden of the current cholera outbreak include Bayelsa, Zamfara, Abia, Cross River, Bauchi, Delta, Katsina, Imo, Nasarawa, and Lagos states.Explaining the need to prevent the disease outbreak in schools, Lafoucrier noted that children faced substantial health risks, particularly those under five, who are prone to severe dehydration and higher mortality rates.

Lafoucrier, according to the News Agency of Nigeria, in a statement on Monday, stated, “Similarly, post-recovery issues in children can include malnutrition, stunted growth, and weakened immune systems, increasing susceptibility to other diseases. These outbreaks underscore the urgent need for improved access to clean water and sanitation in many areas.

“Despite the state government’s efforts to provide water to its population, the current outbreak demonstrates the need for an urgent government focus on ensuring the water provided to the population is clean and risk-free.’’The UNICEF official said educational disruption is another critical consequence of cholera outbreaks, as an illness and the need to care for sick family members lead to school closures and reduced attendance, hindering children’s learning and development.

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