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Adamawa in cholera’s chokehold – Over 30 reported dead

While hints of the confounding epidemic first seeped out, the depth of the tragedy and the staggering toll it has taken on places like Numan,…

While hints of the confounding epidemic first seeped out, the depth of the tragedy and the staggering toll it has taken on places like Numan, Mubi South and other areas, are only now emerging, as desperate, dying farmers have started speaking out.

In Yola South and Demsa areas for instance, government officials estimate that more than 16 adults have died while more than 60 percent are already suffering debilitating symptoms. That would give these local government areas and the other fourteen, localized rates that are the highest in the state. In picturesque Demsa, every family seems to be touched by gruesome maladies: fever, chronic diarrhoea, unbearable headaches and coughs. Many relatively young people have died here in the past two weeks.

With the peak of the rainy season already months past, cholera remains a problem for the people of the state. Already, death tolls from the attack have now passed 30, while several patients are still down with the disease. The strike embarked by the Adamawa State civil servants which enters its third week, has added a tragic dimension to it. The workers strike across the state has paralysed public hospitals, forcing patients to forgo medical treatment.

As a result, not only cholera, but many curable diseases have returned with a vengeance: tuberculosis, typhoid, diarrhoea, intestinal parasites, leprosy and malaria – many of them waterborne, spread through unsanitary conditions.

Efforts to combat these diseases for now have not been reaching rural areas, where many infected people go home to die especially from cholera.

Speaking on the ravaging disease, a community leader in Numan, Mr Zwati Pwadeno, who led journalists on assessment of the epidemic-stricken communities, said the people are in dire need of medical intervention from the state and federal governments in order to battle an upsurge of the menace.

Pwodeno attributed the outbreak to poor social services like good water and lack of proper personal hygiene by people in the area. Recalling that though such a menace had earlier hit the community last year, but the latest incident may claim more lives if not quickly checked.

Continuing rains cause concern

“We have cholera presenting itself on a more continuous basis,” said Pwadeno. “You have a combination of some transmission occurring along the border areas, but we also have a situation where cholera has emerged in areas independent of what we’re seeing now in the state.”

Though April and May-August are typically considered the rainy season, forecasts indicate heavy rainfalls are continuing, raising concerns that the situation could deteriorate further.

Snail-speed response

While the strike continues to hinder government’s emergency response to the victims, people relied on students from the state’s School of Nursing and Midwifery and other volunteers as some victims’ resort to local therapy.

While the volunteers are doing a lot and the impact is clear, it was observed that there is need for the provision of clean water and digging of sanitary latrines and support for overworked and under resourced clinics with drugs and expertise.

Similarly, volunteers should be engaged in the remotest villages aimed at explaining to people the simple steps they must take to identify and avoid the illness.

Already, as confirmed by the state commissioner for Health, Dr Zainab Baba Kwonchi, the state government has sunk much money to check the scourge of the disease.The government kept blaming labour leaders for the increased number of casualties, while the organized labour

unions queried that, “the government should take responsibility for all the people who are suffering from sicknesses as a result of the ongoing strike because the government caused it. Deaths in the recent cholera outbreak could have been avoided if workers were not on strike.”

Speaking to Weekly Trust, the state chairman of the (NLC) comrade Dauda, who alleged that there are threats to their lives, said that; “the government is insensitive to the plight of the common man by allowing the strike to continue while lives are being lost. The threat is definitely not over. Everyone expects cholera because the root causes of the outbreak have not been addressed adequately yet.’’

While confirming that the death toll continue to increase, Adamawa’s Commissioner for Health said the worst-hit local government areas Demsa,Yola south and Numan. She also said from the blood and other body fluid tests of affected persons sent for laboratory analysis, it was confirmed to be, cholera cases. She said the strange disease involves severe vomiting, diarrhea and even cough.

Adamawa emirate intervention

The impact of the strike is biting hard on governance as schools, hospitals and water treatment plants across the 21 local government areas of the state have been shut down. In spite of the intervention of well placed persons and institutions in the face-off, workers have remained adamant, threatening not to resume work until the state government accedes to their demands.

The strike action has also compounded the political troubles of Governor Murtala Nyako who has engaged in a battle of attrition over the control of the party’s structure in the state. A reliable source from the state’s executive council, told Weekly Trust that in the wake of the strike, the state government had sent a powerful delegation to the paramount ruler of Adamawa, Dr Muhammadu Barkindo Aliyu, two days to his coronation, with a view to intervene in the stalemate, but all to no avail.

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