Residents of Kano and Jigawa states have blamed lack of access to potable water and poor sanitation for the cholera outbreak reported to have caused at least 295 deaths between March and July in the two North-western states.
About 195 persons died from the disease in Kano, while over 100 persons lost their lives in neighbouring Jigawa in less than one month, officials said.
The Permanent Secretary of Jigawa State Ministry of Health, Salisu Mu’azu, told reporters Wednesday that over 5,000 suspected cases of the disease were reported in the state within the four months.
Kano State’s epidemiologist, Bashir Lawan, also said as of Wednesday, about 5,555 suspected cases had been recorded from March.
Residents narrate ordeals
Hassan Galadima said he lost two relatives to the outbreak, including his elder brother’s wife, Aisha Muhammad. He said the 35-year old would have survived if the Primary Healthcare Centre (PHC) in their hometown of Zareku in Miga Local Government Area of Jigawa State was functional and had drugs.
“We took her to the facility on July 29 but they asked us to go home after first aid was given to her. But her condition deteriorated overnight and we returned her to the facility the following day. But she was not admitted due to lack of drugs to treat her at the centre,” Mr Galadima said.
He said they had to take the patient to Jahun General Hospital in the neighbouring local government area, about 20 kilometres away. Still, she gave up the ghost there, leaving behind a four-month-old toddler and four other children.
Mr Galadima said the following day, his younger sister, Adama Galadima, 16, also died from the disease.
“She died at home because we could not take her to the primary healthcare centre as we knew that there were no drugs there.”
He said four other family members infected with the disease were, however, responding to treatment at the centre, following supply of drugs to the facility.
Mr Galadima blamed the cholera outbreak on unclean water in the area and the deaths on the poor response by health workers.
He said many people in the community source water from damaged pipes, despite warnings by health officials of the danger in consuming the water.
As of Tuesday, Mr Galadima was still at the Zareku primary healthcare centre, taking care of some of his infected relatives. He said the community recorded the fatalities before the arrival of drugs at the centre.
The village head, Abdulkadir Ibrahim, said five persons died on Friday in the village, but the figure had risen to eight by Tuesday.
Abubakar Idris from Kurna area of Kano metropolis said he took his 41-year-old wife to the Infectious Disease Hospital in Kano after she vomitted throughout the night.
“Our area does not have access to potable water. We rely on water vendors, but we don’t know the source of the water they sell to us. The poor drainage system in our area is also responsible for our poor hygiene.
“But we are happy that health officials received us well at the hospital and provided us medication free of charge. My wife is due for discharge,” Mr Idris told PREMIUM TIMES on Friday.
Rahila Salisu from Kawaji in Nasarawa LGA in Kano said her six-year old son, Muhammad Sani, survived the disease after prompt care at a health facility.
“After a downpour, I noticed him vomiting. When I gave him first aid, it stopped, but a day after, it started again, and he fell unconscious. When we arrived at the hospital, I thought he had died when he fainted. But Allah made it possible for the doctors to bring him back to life.
“As you can see now, he is okay following the treatment in the hospital. Everything given to us here, even feeding, is free. I am very grateful,” Mrs Salisu said. The little boy was discharged from the hospital on Friday.
Adamu Ahmad from Goron Dutse in Kano metropolis said he found himself in the hospital after eating a cabbage served to him by his wife.
“I used to discourage the consumption of such vegetables due to poor hygiene and shortage of water in our area, but I eventually became a victim,” Mr Ahmad said.
“I was brought to the hospital on Wednesday unconscious. Someone here told me they had lost hope on me but thank God I am okay after treatment in the hospital, and I am due for discharge now.”
Measures in place to contain the outbreak in Kano – Official
The Kano State epidemiologist, Bashir Muhammad, said the outbreak was first recorded on March 5 in one local government area before it escalated to 41 out of the 44 council areas in the state.
“The state government has been doing the needful in emergency preparedness to handle the cases. The activities range from active case search both in the community and health facilities and contact tracing of relatives of the infected individuals,” the official said.
The official, a medical doctor, said that recorded cases had dropped to only four local government areas. He said the high number of cases recorded was due to the rainy season and the Sallah festivities.
“The state government has provided the gadgets and equipment the ministry needs and activities are going on at the community level like the treatment of the contaminated wells across the LGAs.
“The state ministry has also reached out to over 9,925 households, enlightening them about the preventive measures,” the official, who is also the incident manager said.
Measures in tackling the outbreak in Jigawa
Mr Mu’azu said because 90 per cent of the deaths in Jigawa occurred at homes, it is difficult for health officials to ascertain the numbers of fatalities.
“The residents’ attitude of not patronising health facilities until the case is severe, caused the high rate of fatalities,” Mr Mu’azu said on Wednesday.
“The state government with support from UNICEF, Doctor without Borders and World Health Organisation are up and doing in response to the outbreak,” he said.
Mr Mu’azu said with the support of the partners, the state has trained communities surveillance personnel across the state on how to identify cholera cases in their localities.
“Also, there are radio jingles sensitising the residents on the preventive measures. The facilities are available and the drugs and consumables have been decentralised across the three senatorial zones for easy access and distribution,” the permanent secretary said.
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