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Nigeria battles cholera outbreak

Nigeria is on a nationwide alert after at least 352 people died during the last three months in a cholera outbreak. Nigeria’s health ministry has logged more than 6,400 cases of the disease since June. The disease has been found in 12 of Nigeria's 36 states and health officials now fear the disease could spread further."Epidemiological evidence indicates that the entire country is at risk," said a health ministry spokesperson. The northern states of Bauchi and Borno are the worst hit, with 139 deaths between them, said the director of public health, Dr Mike Anibueze.Heavy seasonal rains and the lack of access to clean water and proper sanitation are being blamed for the spread of the disease, which is carried by water.

Across the border in neighbouring Cameroon, the outbreak has also killed more than 200 people. Cholera, causes diarrhoea and severe dehydration and can lead to death if not detected and properly treated. The infection is highly contagious yet easily preventable with clean water and sanitation. But medical care in Nigeria is generally poor. Few people have been vaccinated against the disease and in many places, access to toilets is rare and open-air sewers can easily flood. Just over half Nigeria’s population has access to safe water and proper sanitation.

Nigeria is also fighting a measles epidemic. The disease, characterised by a high temperature and red spots on the body, has killed more than 1,400 people in Africa this year in some of the most serious outbreaks seen for a decade, Scientific American reported. The central west African country’s health ministry said 83 deaths from measles had been recorded since the start of the year and more than 5,000 cases reported, a ten-fold increase on the same period last year.

Nigeria’s HIV/Aids rate is much lower compared with the other African nations such as Kenya or South Africa whose percentage rates are in the double Figures. In 2003, the HIV prevalence rate among 20 to 29 year-olds was 5.6 per cent, according to the US Library of Congress. Like many developing countries, Nigeria suffers from a polio crisis as well as periodic outbreaks of cholera, malaria, and sleeping sickness. Since 2004, there has been a vaccination drive, spearheaded by the World Health organization to combat polio and malaria. Education is also in a state of neglect. It is provided free by the government, but the attendance rate for secondary education is only 29 per cent.

Hayley attribution