CAPPA – Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa

Cholera: Prioritise Access To Public Water, CAPPA Tells Govt

The Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) has raised the alarm over the latest cholera outbreak in Nigeria, noting that the health crisis is a direct consequence of government’s failure to invest in the provision of safe public water supply.

CAPPA in a statement by its Media and Communications Officer, Robert Egbe, urged the government to prioritise access to potable water for the public to quell the outbreak, which affects thousands of vulnerable Nigerians.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had, in a recent advisory, reported that 1,141 suspected cases of cholera had been recorded so far in 2024, with at least 30 deaths resulting from 65 confirmed cases from January 1 to June 11.

The centre confirmed cholera outbreaks in more than 25 states across the country, including Lagos.

The Lagos State Ministry of Health has warned that the current outbreak associated with the cholera subtype known as Serovars O1 is highly aggressive and contagious.

The ministry also announced recently that it had recorded 350 suspected cases of cholera, identifying Lagos Island as the epicentre with the highest number of suspected cases, at 106.

According to CAPPA Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi, state authorities have been quick to issue safety guidelines and precautionary measures, tasking citizens to maintain cleaner sanitary conditions and hygiene.

Oluwafemi, however, noted that while sensitisation efforts were necessary, they fell short without the underlying issues being addressed.

He said, “Cholera is an infectious disease that causes diarrhoea and severe dehydration and is typically spread through unsafe water and food contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae.

“The disease, even though preventable, is particularly vicious in areas where sanitary facilities are insufficient, and the availability of safe water supply is inadequate. As such, the resolution to controlling cholera lies in the effective management of public water and sanitation systems.

“Unfortunately, millions of Nigerians still suffer an acute lack of access to potable water supply and depend on unsafe water sources for utility. The recurring cholera crisis in Nigeria is worsened by the increasing trend of privatisation of basic amenities, including public water supply, by state authorities.

“Where profit motives outweigh the intimate needs of the people, vulnerable populations suffer the most and are left defenceless against water-borne outbreaks such as cholera.”

Oluwafemi said there must be political will to prevent future outbreaks of cholera and safeguard public health, adding that there should be an intentional and substantial budgetary investment in public water delivery and sanitation systems across the country, particularly in informal and marginalised communities.

Zikora Ibeh, CAPPA’s Policy and Research Officer, stated that though the Lagos State Government had acknowledged the severity of the current outbreak and the vulnerability of urban slums and overcrowded, its acknowledgement must translate into actionable plans and solutions that prioritise public welfare over corporate interests.

“Nigeria’s cholera problem is also a matter of the inequality in our society. For instance, Lagos State, which hosts millions of inhabitants and presents itself as one of the most progressive cities in the country, still lacks adequate public water supply and sanitation facilities — both fundamental human rights essential for the well-being of people.

“Yet, the state’s continued underinvestment in public water infrastructure, massive retrenchment of public water workers, and transfer of water responsibilities to third-party vendors and market-oriented investors seeking to make cut-throat profits from the basic needs of citizens dismiss and exacerbate this issue. This has left many residents, especially low-income earners and informal community inhabitants, unable to afford the cost of water, reliant on unsafe water sources, and exposed to preventable diseases,” Zikora said.

CAPPA called on the Nigerian government and state authorities to institutionalise the development of adequate public water supply systems to ensure that all citizens, regardless of their socio-economic status, have access to clean and safe drinking water.

It also urged the government to fund public health facilities and improve the capacity of health professionals to respond to emergencies efficiently.

“The organisation advised citizens to protect their health by boiling their drinking water and maintaining proper sanitation and hygiene practices, such as washing their hands regularly with soap and clean water, especially before eating and after using the toilet. It also urged people to immediately report to local health centres at the onset of cholera symptoms,” the statement added.

Source: Daily Trust

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