NIGER – A cholera outbreak in southern Niger has killed 12 people and infected 201 others across three regions, with heavy rains helping to further spread the disease, the country’s health minister has said.

Most of the cases are related to an epidemic that has been raging for several months in neighboring cross-border regions where there is significant mixing of cross-border populations,” health minister Idi Illiassou Mainassara said in a statement.

Niger’s border with Nigeria is a hot spot for cholera outbreaks, where populations often move freely between both countries with minimal restrictions, Mainassara said.

In 2018, Niger faced a severe Cholera outbreak which claimed over 50 lives and at least 2,752 people infected, an outbreak also linked to infections stemming from Nigeria.

Currently, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) is leading a national response to an outbreak of cholera across states in Nigeria. This has been exacerbated by poor access to clean water, open defecation, poor sanitation, and hygiene.

Between the 1st of January and 1st of August 2021, 31,425 suspected cases of cholera, 311 confirmed cases and 816 deaths have been reported from 22 states and FCT.

Following an increase in the number of cholera cases, the National Cholera Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) was activated on the 22nd of June 2021.

The National Cholera EOC has led the deployment of Rapid Response Teams to support the most affected states.

Additionally, NCDC and its partners have provided states with commodities for case management and laboratory diagnosis, materials for risk communications, response guidelines among other support.

A reactive oral cholera vaccine (OCV) campaign led by NPHCDA was conducted in Bauchi LGA, Bauchi State from 24th to 28th July 2021.

However, NCDC is concerned that none of these medical interventions will solve the underlying issues leading to cholera outbreaks.

Cholera is a waterborne disease, and the risk of transmission is higher when there is poor sanitation and disruption of clean water supply.

The wrong disposal of refuse and practices such as open defecation endanger the safety of water used for drinking and personal use.

These lead to the spread of water-borne diseases such as cholera. Without proper water, sanitation, and hygiene (WaSH), Nigeria remains at risk of cholera cases and deaths.

Cholera remains a global threat to public health and indicator of inequity and lack of social development. WHO estimates that every year there are roughly 1.3 to 4 million cases, and 21,000 to 143,000 deaths globally due to cholera.