Nigeria: Floods, striking doctors spark concern over disease outbreak

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A doctors’ strike and the flooding in Nigeria’s central Benue state have raised concerns over the possible outbreak of diseases.

Already, there have been reports of a cholera outbreak at a refugee camp in north-eastern Nigeria, with at least 14 people said to have have died so far.

The cholera outbreak is concentrated in Muna Garage, a camp on the outskirts of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state.

More than 150 cases have been confirmed in the camp, with others reported in surrounding areas. A total of 200 people have been treated for the disease, and at least half have been discharged.

Muna Garage is home to about 20,000 displaced persons.

Cholera outbreaks in refugee camps like these are not unexpected.

Last week, UNICEF announced that 75 percent of water and sanitation infrastructure in north-eastern Nigeria had been destroyed during the Boko Haram insurgency.

The group says 3.6 million IDPs have poor access to clean water and sanitation.

Sanitation in the camps is also poor, with most lacking proper toilets and are overcrowded.

Aid agencies have stepped up the distribution of chlorine tablets and additional toilets are being installed in Muna.

Several isolation units were set up last year, but nowhere near enough to cope with the scale of the current outbreak.

Doctors Without Borders, one of the aid agencies that’s set up treatment centers in the area – says its facilities are overstretched. For instance, units that can accommodate 40 patients are being used to treat as many as 70.

Cholera kills rapidly, but with early diagnosis and proper treatment, the chances of survival are greatly enhanced.

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