WHO scales up response as Borno declares another outbreak of cholera

Maiduguri, 6 September 2018 - The World Health Organization (WHO) is deploying personnel, treatment kits, laboratory equipment as well as infection prevention and control supplies to prevent further fatalities due to another wave of cholera outbreak in Borno state. With the laboratory confirmation of samples of suspected cholera cases sent to the National Reference Laboratory Abuja, the Borno Ministry of Health on 06 September 2018 officially declared an outbreak of cholera in the state. 

Commissioner for Health, Dr Haruna Mshelia, made the pronouncement during a Press briefing in Maiduguri. According to him, “the official declaration has become important to enable partners and Non-Governmental Organizations mobilize enough resources for a comprehensive response to the outbreak which is presently concentrated in Maiduguri Metropolitan Council, Jere, Kaga, Konduga and Magumeri local government areas. 

Consequently, I hereby activate the Emergency Operations Centre for coordination of partners’ response,” said Dr Mshelia. He urged all partners, based on comparative capacities, to support the state Ministry of Health to establish and manage cholera treatment centres, intensify house-to-house case search, risk communication activities, improve water, sanitation and hygiene facilities as well as other interventions to ensure that the transmission is interrupted on record time.

Prior to the official declaration of the outbreak, WHO engaged nearly 200 community health champions to conduct house-to-house active search for suspected cholera cases, distribute water purification tablets (aquatabs) and oral rehydration solution (ORS) as well as provide households with lifesaving messages on cholera preventive behaviours especially sanitation and hygiene. 

“With a prior knowledge of the environment and season, WHO has in the past thee weeeks, deployed personnel to the field to reinforce early detection and reporting  suspected cases of acute watery diarrhea in parts of Borno state” Dr Collins Owili, the Emergency Manager, WHO Health Emergency Programme for the Northeast said. According to him, prioritized areas include internally displaced persons camps, especially those located within Maiduguri. 

In other parts of the state, including Benisheik in Kaga local government area (LGA), Auno in Konduga, Gajigana in Magumeri and Old Maiduguri in Jere LGAs, WHO hard-to-reach teams have been providing the urgently needed treatment, comprising oral rehydration therapy to suspected diarrhea patients and conducting health promotion activities. Other partners have established a cholera treatment centre at Dala and mobilized ambulance vehicles for rapid response. 

As of 05 September 2018, the teams collectively reported more than 380 cases of suspected cholera, including 14 deaths.  Over 250 cases have been treated and discharged. Earlier in the year, WHO through the cholera after action review (AAR) coordinated the development of Borno state cholera preparedness plan which guided the prepositioning of cholera treatment kits in high risk locations, mapped partners’ capacities and predicted vulnerable locations for close monitoring ahead of the cholera peak seasons. 

Presently, the government in collaboration with UN agencies and international NGOs has committed to establish cholera treatment centres to manage reported cases. In addition, LGA authorities have been empowered financially to activate rapid response mechanisms in their areas should there be an upsurge of suspected cases. It is hoped that these measures will reverse the current upsurge of suspected cases and avoid having large outbreaks as have been seen in the past.


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