The Lagos State government has announced additional support from the World Health Organisation (WHO) as it grapples with a cholera outbreak at Kirikiri prison.

During a recent update on the cholera outbreak in Lagos State, Commissioner for Health Prof. Akin Abayomi highlighted the successful implementation of urgent medical and environmental intervention measures.

“We were able to supply Kirikiri medium prison with intravenous fluids, infection prevention, and other health consumables.

“Additionally, the World Health Organization (WHO) has donated 10,000 doses of pharmaceuticals which have been delivered to the prison to support prison health facilities with prevention strategies for about 3,200 inmates if required.

“Immediate water and sanitation issues have been corrected, and there is ongoing inspections of other correctional facilities in the state,” the commissioner said.

Abayomi also revealed that the recent cholera outbreak in Lagos stemmed from unregulated street beverages and contaminated water supplies, identified as the primary sources two weeks ago.

He explained that numerous samples collected from commonly sold street beverages by undercover environmental officers from the Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) and the Ministry of Health in the affected regions verified the existence of Vibrio cholerae bacteria, responsible for causing cholera.

“All of 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.

However, Abayomi announced a significant improvement in daily cholera cases from the spike reported two weeks ago.

The government acknowledged evidence of ongoing low-grade community transmission, because few cases were still presenting to hospitals.

He disclosed that while no new deaths attributable to cholera had been reported in the past 72 hours, the government was escalating efforts to eradicate transmission entirely.

Abayomi pointed out that the decrease in new daily cases and the absence of recent deaths showed that interventions were yielding results. He emphasized the crucial role of residents adhering to public health information and advice regarding safety measures and promptly seeking healthcare when symptoms arise.

He highlighted that the state government, utilizing its interagency “One Health” approach, is implementing environmental health measures in cooperation with the Lagos Water Corporation and sanitation agencies (LAWMA and LASWAMO). These measures include widespread sanitation efforts, inspection and disinfection of boreholes, provision of safe drinking water to affected local governments, and enforcement of stricter regulations on local beverage manufacturers.

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

The commissioner stressed the importance of ongoing vigilance and compliance with public health precautions. In addition to government initiatives, he urged the public to take personal responsibility by consuming safe water, food, and beverages, maintaining good personal hygiene, initiating oral rehydration therapy, and seeking immediate medical attention if symptoms like diarrhoea and vomiting occur. He emphasized that suspected cholera treatment remains free of charge at all government hospitals.

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