Flooding: How to prevent spread of infectious diseases — NCDC

Flooded mini-estate used to illustrate the story.[photo credit: scan news]
Flooded mini-estate used to illustrate the story.[photo credit: scan news]

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has issued precautionary measures to be taken on several diseases that stem from flooding, a scourge that has so far led to over 100 deaths in Nigeria this year.

This comes two days after the emergency body, NEMA, declared national disaster in states badly hit by flooding. They are Kogi, Niger, Anambra and Delta states.

Eight other states are being monitored, the agency said. They are Taraba Adamawa, Kebbi, Edo, Rivers, Benue, Bayelsa and Kwara states.

”More than 100 people have died in floods,” Sani Datti, the agency’s spokesperson, told PREMIUM TIMES on Monday.

The directive followed a warning by the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency that the Benue and Niger Rivers were close to reaching levels that in 2012 led to floods that killed more than 350 people and wiped out homes, farms and other property.

The NEMA chief said President Muhammadu Buhari approved N3 billion for the first stages of preparedness, response disaster mitigation.

Seasonal flooding is the bane in many communities in Nigeria, where a growing population, desert expansion, deforestation and lack of good drainage infrastructure are enabling factors.

The flooding so far this year has mostly been in rural areas where there is little or no access to healthcare to curb diseases.

To prevent spread of such disease, NCDC Director Chikwe Ihekweazu Wednesday gave 10 precautionary measures. They include:

1. Do not drink flood water, or use it to wash dishes, brush teeth, or wash/prepare food.

2. Communities should ensure chlorination of the public source of water supply.

3. Ensure proper disposal of waste and clearing of sewage.

4. Wash your hands frequently with soap and clean water.

5. Discard all medicines, food and bottled water contaminated by flood water.

6. In homes, ensure water is well boiled before drinking.

7. Avoid open defecation and indiscriminate refuse dumping.

8. Avoid mosquito bites by ensuring consistent use of an Insecticide Treated Net.

9. Health workers should observe universal care precautions at all time.

10. If you experience sudden fever or diarrhea, please visit a health care facility.

Environmentalists have also urged the government to invest in better drainages and improve coastal areas.

“The floods were expected and did not take us by surprise. They simply took us in a state of unpreparedness. Sadly, the floods will get worse as the water makes its way downstream and towards the Atlantic Ocean,” an environmental rights activist, Nnimmo Bassey said.

Besides emergency responses, Mr Bassey also advised the government on steps to prevent the catastrophic experience of 2012 floods.

”The government needs to carry out a mapping of all areas that are flood-prone, if that hasn’t been done already. All our cities and riverine communities should have drainage master plans. These would delineate flood prone zones and also indicate areas that people can build in safety.

”Communities can equally map their territories and decide safe distances from flood prone areas. Advice should be given to flood prone communities on building codes, ground floor levels and building materials to use to ensure resilience and safety,” he said.

”Sanitation and water supply should be enhanced to avoid epidemics during floods. It includes public education to ensure that drainages are not blocked. There should also be adequate waste management. Plastic bags should be banned as already done in Rwanda, Kenya, South Sudan and Mauritania,” he added.

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