The outbreak of cholera in Kano State and some states in the North have become a source of concern to people in the state, more so when the disease was reported to have claimed many lives. KOLA OYELERE reports that poor personal hygiene and untidy habits of many in Kano metropolis were largely responsible for the outbreak.
WHEN it was first reported in the media that an outbreak of cholera had spread like wildfire in Kano State, many did not take it seriously, because they never expected that it would cause such a huge mortality among the residents of the state.
However, when it was eventually found out that the disease had claimed so many lives, many of which, were not reported, it became clear to the residents, health workers and government officials that Kano, too, had joined the league of states ravaged by cholera outbreak in the country.
It will be recalled that states like Oyo, Ogun, Plateau, Zamfara, Nasarawa and Lagos, had at one time or the other, been ravaged by the infectious disease with heavy casualties, just as the Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, said late last year that Zamfara State recorded 1,110 cases, 51 deaths, “Nasarawa State: 105 cases and 9 deaths; Lagos State: 134 cases, 4 deaths; Plateau State: 130 cases, 11 deaths; Oyo State: 29 cases, 6 deaths; and Ogun State: 115 cases and 5 deaths,” with the total number of 1,623 cases and 86 deaths.
That the disease would eventually rear its ugly head in Kano, despite warnings made by the Federal Ministry of Health and various measures put in place by the Kano State government beat the imagination of many Kano residents, it was learnt.
With the last count of mortality recorded in the outbreak, over 150 persons were said to have lost their lives, though the Project Director of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in the Federal Ministry of Health, Professor AbdulSalam Nasidi, said when it first broke out that about 71 people died.
According to him, 2,165 cases were recorded from 22 local government areas of the state, with the highest number of lives lost in Fagge Local Government Area of the state.
In January this year, no fewer than 22 adults and three children were reported dead while about 600 others were infected following a fresh cholera outbreak in the state, though the Federal Government was reported to have donated drugs worth N34m to the Kano State Government to enable it tackle cholera outbreak in the state.
When Sunday Tribune went round some of the affected local government areas, it was observed that dirty habit and nonchalant attitude of people in the local government areas towards maintaining a hygienic environment aided the spread of the disease.
A social worker in Fagge Local Government Area, Alhaji Salman Fagge, said many in Kano metropolis lived in dirty conditions, adding that high level of poverty among the people had also contributed to the outbreak of the disease.
“Though many don’t have access to pipe-borne water, some eat whatever they see, whether cooked in a hygienic condition or not, that does not mean that they should put their lives at risk,” he added.
While speaking on the low level of awareness on the disease, Dr Tijjani Yusuff, of the state Ministry of Health, said many in the state lived in ignorance, especially about how the disease could be contracted, saying the state government was trying its best to inform, but that it was left for people to follow simple instructions.
The state Commissioner for Health, Dr Labaran Yusuf, said the state government had spent over N76 million to provide necessary drugs to treat those infected with the disease.
He said the disease broke out in the country last September, noting that it did not spread to the state because the state government made frantic efforts to combat its spread.
When Sunday Tribune spoke with one of the cholera victims, Hajiya Zanaibu Ibrahim from Dawakin–Kudu, she said she did not know she was infected with the disease until she was rushed to the hospital.
“On that fateful day, my daughter Memuna, went to draw water from a river very close to our village, but I started vomiting after eating tuwo. Luckily for me, there were two young National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members teaching in a school in our area that came to take me to hospital. I was treated at the hospital and I stopped vomiting,” she narrated.
Another victim, Malam Garba Awalu, disclosed that the refuse dump site very close to his house must have made him contract the disease, saying many people in his village didn’t have toilet, but often came to defecate on the refuse dump site.
He said though a lawmaker in the state House of Assembly had provided toilet facilities for them in the community, more still needed to be done to prevent the recurrence of the incident, which he said claimed the lives of his relatives.