Thought Leadership

What do we have in common with Zimbabwe?

In common with Zimbabwe, Nigeria has the ability to generate outbreaks of poverty related disease like cholera. The difference with Zimbabwe however is that while they can justtify outbreaks of cholera as consequent on the broader context, we really do not have anything to blame it on in Nigeria! We are a rich country! We are!

We had chosen over the past weeks not to blog on the outbreak of Cholera in Northeastern Nigeria. But when we read statements like this:

Health Commissioner of Borno State Zubairu Maina said…. the government had deployed medical personnel to all the affected areas, and blamed the spread of the disease on poor hygiene and drinking of contaminated water.

…we are obliged to highlight the ineptitude of our colleagues running the affairs in the Ministries of Health in several states in the country.

Pray – why would people drink contaminated water? Because the government elected by the people have failed to provide the simplest of commodities – water.

Cholera is not a disease anyone hould be getting in October 2009..definitely not in Nigeria. To understand the absurdity of this; the last major outbreak of cholera in the United States occurred in 1910-1911! If we want to pursue grand dreams such as becoming one of the 20 largest economies by the year 2020…maybe we should start with some of the apparently small steps such as preventing cholera!

Maybe until we take care of the simplest thiings in life – water, electricity, primary school, malaria treatment NTA will do well to spare us the jingles of 20 2020!

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead

By Chikwe Ihekweazu

Chikwe Ihekweazu is an epidemiologist and consultant public health physician. He is the Editor of Nigeria Health Watch, and the Managing Partner of EpiAfric (, which provides expertise in public health research and advisory services, health communication and professional development. He previously held leadership roles at the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the UK's Health Protection Agency. Chikwe has undertaken several short term consultancies for the World Health Organisation, mainly in response to major outbreaks. He is a TED Fellow and co-curator of TEDxEuston.

1 reply on “What do we have in common with Zimbabwe?”

“We had chosen over the past weeks not to blog on the outbreak of Cholera in Northeastern Nigeria” does sound irresponsible. How could we point the finger at those that do not know any better as we chose to bury bad news. What could be the motivation?

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