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Cholera: NAFDAC May Ban Tigernut Drink





Kunle Awosiyan

There are indications that the National Agency for Drug and Food Administration and Control may ban the Tigernut drink following the results of investigations of the Lagos State Government which traced recent cholera outbreak to its consumption.

A source at the Lagos NAFDAC office told Echonews that the agency swung into action following its indictment in the preliminary report of the outbreak by the Lagos State Government. He said the agency was taking drastic steps to unravel the truth.

“”In the meantime, the agency may ban the sales of any kind of tigernut drink to establish the report by the Lagos government, which the source said might not be completely true,” the source said.

The special adviser to the Lagos state governor on health, Dr. Kemi Ogunyemi on Saturday attributed the Cholera outbreak to drinking of tigernut by some of the affected persons.

She mentioned that upon noticing a rise in suspected cholera cases in Eti-Osa LGA, the government conducted a direct assessment of the area.

Ogunyemi revealed that a survey indicated a common factor was a tigernut drink being sold, while noting it was not registered with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

She mentioned that authorities were then sent out to locate the drink in order to test samples for cholera.

Her words: “We found empty bottles with a name on them, but we discovered that it wasn’t even registered with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), the regulatory body that ensures the safety of consumables. “There was a phone number and a name on the bottle, and we started tracing. We did contact tracing, similar to what we did with COVID-19.


“We combed the area to asked people where they got the drinks from. We couldn’t find any full bottles. We only found empty ones, which were of no use because we could not test them. The phone number on the bottle was not reachable.

“It could be anything else. We found out that it was confirmed cholera, specifically Vibrio cholera subtype 01, which is the most infectious and aggressive type.

“There are different types, but we identified this one. In Lagos Island, Eti-osa, and Kosofe, we recorded the highest number of cases that went to the hospital.

“I’m not talking about reported cases. These are the people who did the right thing by going to the hospital to complain of symptoms, and they were treated. That’s when we were alerted.”

Lagos State Government is doing all within its capacity to stop the increasing number of deaths from Cholera. At least three persons die everyday from Cholera since its outbreak a week ago.

Echonews correspondent who monitored the development observed that as at Saturday, the death toll had risen to 24 out of the 417 suspected cases across across the 20 Local Government and 37 Local Council Development Areas.

Meanwhile, the Chief Medical Director of the Lagos State Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, Professor Adetokunbo Fabamnwo, told our correspondent that five cholera patients admitted at the hospital had been discharged.

He said “We had only five cases in LASUTH last weweek We do not have fresh cases and they have all gone home. As you know the trend is that even across the state the number is reducing. There is no cause for panic anymore.”

However, the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi said there were only 35 confirmed cases out of which 24 of them had died.

To stem the rising death toll, the commissioner said that the government had rolled out various hygiene regulations as he advised residents to ensure personal and environmental hygiene.

The cases were reported from Agege, Badagry, Ikeja, Mushin, Ajeromi-Ifelodun, Epe, Ikorodu, Ojo, Alimosho, and Eti-Osa.

Others were Kosofe, Oshodi-Isolo, Amuwo-Odofin, Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos Island, Shomolu, Apapa, Ifako-Ijaiye, Lagos mainland, and Surulere.

Because Cholera is a food and water-borne disease caused by ingesting the bacteria— Vibrio cholerae — in contaminated water and food, the state Water Corporation has raised the alarm in a statement calling on residents to be wary of untreated water in circulation, even as it initiated comprehensive measures to safeguard public health and ensure access to safe drinking water across the state.

The corporation said it had commenced an extensive water sampling and quality monitoring campaign throughout the state.

Residents were encouraged to bring water samples from their homes or public spaces for testing by the qualified teams at LWC Headquarters, Ijora.

The statement added that the LWC water quality monitoring team would be monitoring water consumption across the state to identify and control the outbreak.

“According to the Lagos State Ministry of Health, the primary cause of the cholera outbreak has been linked to the consumption of contaminated water and inadequate sanitation.

As part of its efforts, the state government also directed assigned Private Sector Participant, PSP, operators in the waste management sector to ensure a-24 hour seamless evacuation of wastes as part of measures to prevent further spread of cholera outbreak in the state.

The Managing Director of the Lagos Waste Management Authority, LAWMA, Dr. Muyiwa Gbadegesin, who stated this, however, called on residents to observe the best personal and domestic hygiene, as well as proper waste management practices to curb the spread.

Gbadegesin said the measure had become necessary, following the increasing rate of deaths, leaving many hospitalised.

The LAWMA boss suggested several precautionary measures, including: proper waste disposal; ensuring safe drinking water; frequent hand-washing with soap; food safety practices and use of proper sanitation facilities, among others.

Gbadegesin admonished residents to shun indiscriminate refuse disposal and imbibe the practice of bagging and disposing off their waste using covered bins to prevent the possible spread of the diseases by vectors, and to ensure seamless evacuation by assigned PSP operators.

“LAWMA will continue to intensify efforts at making sure that waste generated across the state is promptly and efficiently managed, with PSP service providers who are working round the clock to clean up black spots.

‘’We are fully committed to the health and safety of every Lagosian. Our teams are on the ground, ensuring that waste is properly collected and disposed off to minimise health risks. However, we need the co-operation of all residents to maintain a clean and safe environment,” he said.

The World Health Organisation on Thursday announced a spike in cholera in several regions of the world, with almost 195,000 cases and over 1,900 deaths reported in 24 countries since the start of 2024.

WHO said the Eastern Mediterranean Region reported the highest number of cases, followed by the African Region, the Region of the Americas, the Southeast Asia Region, and the European Region.

The global health body, however, noted that there are no reported cases in the Western Region, according to its bulletin released on Wednesday.

Sadly, Lagos Island, Kosofe, Ikorodu and Eti Osa have recorded the highest numbers of cases so far, according to Dr. Kemi Ogunyemi.

She said: “The rise in cases was anticipated, following the Ileya festivities, during which large gatherings occurred.’’

She, however, noted that suspected cases were subsiding across LGAs, particularly previously affected LGAs, due to the state government’s interventions and surveillance efforts.

Ogunyemi said the Lagos State government, through the Ministry of Health and other sister agencies, was maintaining rigorous surveillance and monitoring of the situation and implementing planned programs and activities to curb the spread.

“The Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the state Ministry of environment and its agency, the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency, LASEPA, continues to collect samples of water sources, food, and beverages to identify the source of contamination.

‘’We have also intensified our surveillance activities in communities, particularly in affected local government areas, to address the situation head-on.

“We are also working with the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education as well as the Ministry of Tertiary Education to ensure all precautions are taken in our schools to protect children and scholars as they return.

‘’Residents must, however, remain vigilant, practice good hand hygiene, and participate in community sanitation activities to stop the spread of cholera,” the special adviser stated.

Ogunyemi urged citizens to seek medical attention immediately after they experienced symptoms, such as watery diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal pain, general malaise, and fever, stressing that cholera treatment was provided free of charge at all public health facilities.