Cholera Kills 35 in Nigeria

A deadly cholera outbreak has killed 35 people in north-eastern Nigeria. The death toll has jumped up from 21 at the beginning of the week.

According to the Borno State health ministry, “[t]he total number of suspected cholera cases is now 1283”.

The sickness has spread like wildfire through camps for internally displaced people (IDPs), who have fled the violence caused by Boko Haram. IDPs in these camps are living in cramped makeshift accommodation, dependent on food parcels and using communal water boreholes.

In addition to a lack of safe water and very poor sanitary conditions, this region of Borno State also suffers from high rates of malnutrition, making IDPs particularly susceptible to disease.

According to the United Nations, there are more than 1.7 million people who have been displaced by the Boko Haram conflict, and over 3.6 million people in Nigeria without access to basic water services.

The Muna Garage camp on the outskirts of Maiduguri, capital of Borno State, has been most hit by the illness, with 775 infections reported. Maiduguri has seen its population nearly double since Boko Haram began its insurgency in 2009.

Nigeria’s government, as well as domestic and international aid agencies have been working to contain the outbreak. However, there are reports that it continues to spread, as 438 cases have been recorded in Dikwa, 90 kilometres east of Maiduguri.

The United Nations, Doctors Without Borders and the World Health Organisation have all been involved in trying to provide shelter, food, clean water and healthcare to those affected.

The United Nations Children’s Fund has expressed particular concern for the 350 000 displaced children under the age of five, at risk of the latest cholera outbreak.