Cholera is a major concern in West Africa and Nigeria

Cholera is a major concern in West Africa and Nigeria

Displaced by devastating floods, Nigerians are forced to use floodwater despite cholera risk

This article is more than 2 years old

This article is more than 2 years old

One in four Africans, and most men, are likely to face cholera during the floods in several countries, a new study suggests.

Cholera is often cited as a major concern in the flood-affected countries of the Sahel region and Nigeria, which has seen more than 400 people die and many more infected with cholera in a few weeks’ time.

In a study published on Monday, the UN humanitarian agency, Unicef, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said the threat of cholera was the “most pressing” risk affecting displaced people in Chad, Niger and Nigeria.

In four of the five affected countries, the study found that those staying in camps were using contaminated water and washing their bodies in open air, rather than a river or lake.

The study, which estimated that at least 1.5 million people face the risk of disease and 250,000 of them may already have the disease, noted a shortage of clean water resources, which are often contaminated by animal waste, human waste, and human and animal faeces.

“The risk of cholera has been greatly underestimated, as we found that not one of the 5,000 people interviewed was using safe water,” said Jean-Marie Gueguen, ICRC’s director of emergencies.

In its study of flooding and cholera in West Africa, the authors point out that the risk to vulnerable population groups is particularly high in West Africa and Nigeria.

The researchers added: “Despite the risks of cholera, there is a tendency for refugees and displaced people not to report the disease. This has implications for public health, and ultimately on the capacity of humanitarian actors to prevent cholera.

“In particular, we show that refugees and displaced populations remain the most at risk of being exposed to cholera, and that they are highly unlikely to seek treatment in health centres and are less likely to take antibiotics.

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