No fewer than 28 persons have been by cholera in the North-East, while 837 are suspected to have been infected with the disease, including about 145 children under the age of five, UNICEF has said.
The organisation also expressed concern with the spread of cholera in the region, saying 1.4 million displaced persons, among whom are 350,000 children under the age of five, were in serious danger.
A statement on Thursday by UNICEF Communications Chief in Nigeria, Doune Porter, said the outbreak occurred as ongoing violence and military efforts against Boko Haram in the region had displaced more than 1.7 million persons and leaving over 3.6 million without adequate access to basic water services.
Porter stated, “An estimated 28 people have died from cholera, while 837 are suspected to have been infected with the disease, including at least 145 children under the age of five.
“The outbreak was first identified in the Muna Garage camp for the displaced persons in Maiduguri, the state capital. The outbreak has spread to as many as six other locations in the state.
“UNICEF and partners have rapidly scaled up their response to the cholera outbreak as heavy rains multiply the risk of disease and malnutrition for conflict-affected children.
“Cholera is difficult for young children to withstand at any time, but becomes a crisis for survival when their resilience is already weakened by malnutrition, malaria and other waterborne diseases.”
The statement quoted UNICEF Deputy Representative in Nigeria, Pernille Ironside, as saying “cholera is one more threat amongst many that children in the North-East Nigeria are battling today in order to survive.”
According to UNICEF, cholera preparedness plan has since been in place before the rains began.
The UN agency said religious leaders, community heads and local volunteers had been mobilised to encourage good hygiene practices and help refer suspected cases to health facilities.
UNICEF added, “Since the outbreak was confirmed, there has been a closely coordinated water, sanitation and hygiene and health rapid response, driven by the Borno State Government with the support from World Health Organisation, UNICEF and international non-governmental organisations, including the setup of a cholera treatment centre at the Muna Garage Camp.”