It’s another hot season again. In the full circle of the year there are several seasons that comes in cold, dry, wet, hot, haze or the combination of two or more of these. The severity of features that marks a season depends on the global location of an area.
But sometimes there are also special situations where periodic spells bring about excessive or moderate manifestations of the season.
The southern and northern poles of the hemisphere are easily associated with cold, while the tropics are associated with heat. The heat in our tropical location in Africa usually come twice in the year, in springs (about this period) and at falls. It does appear the season could become even hotter and last longer in the face of the phenomenal global warming.
There are attendant health hazards that come with the seasons. The commonest hazards of the hot season in Nigeria are Cholera and Cerebral Spinal Meningitis. The occurrence of these usually varies in the years, as sometimes communities are thrown into deep epidemic confusion resulting in the loss of lives. However, the epidemics situation usually occurs in cyclical periods of a number of years.
Now that the hot season is here again the problems of Cholera and Cerebral Spinal Meningitis have started to manifest in parts of the country. The epidemics were earlier reported to have broken out in Zinder region in the nearby Republics of Niger. But these have since spread across the borders into Nigeria affecting communities in the nearby states and even beyond. Available reports indicate that some of the worst hit communities so far are located in Katsina, Kano, Ebonyi, Benue, Niger, Kwara and Nassarawa states, with many more exposed to the hazards.
Experts say meningitis is the inflammation of the meninges membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. The inflammation is said to be commonly caused by bacteria or viral infections. There are said to be other causes, but that quick diagnosis and treatment are vital to reduce the risk of deaths or complications. Cholera is another infectious disease that affects the digestive system and causes abnormal watery visits to the toilet and vomiting.
Both the Cholera and Cerebral Spinal Meningitis are said to be contagiously spread through unhealthy environment and congestion. Therefore, the hot season provide the good excuse for the rapid spread of the infections, especially in the condition where portable water is scarce and tight housing facilities. So, under a poor sanitation and inadequate ventilation, the causal organisms are easily transported from the infected persons to the next and to another.
Though there could be vaccination for the diseases, the best option is the preventive healthy lifestyle. Cleanliness is said to be next to Godliness. Communities are expected to ensure that their environments are properly kept clean, especially the manner which foods are prepared and domestic drainages. Individuals have the most responsibilities adopt personal hygiene and to promote community cleanliness.
The present situation is of serious concern to both the government and communities. The alert was first raised by the federal ministry of health, which have the direct mandate on health of the nation. Since then, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has stepped in boosting campaign against the epidemics. As the federal government’s platform of response to disaster, the agency’s involvement is a proactive approach to prevent the situation from getting out of hand.
In line with the mandate of NEMA to monitor preparation of stakeholders for response to disasters, the Director General AVM Mohammed Audu-Bida (Rtd) said the agency has written the States Governors to be on alert and provide necessary facilities to health centres in the communities for response to the epidemics. These include the mobilization of their health officers to the communities for awareness, vaccination, diagnosis and treatment of the epidemics. The states also have the roles to mobilize the communities to starve off the attendant disasters from the epidemics.
The federal ministry of health has been contacted by the agency, according to Audu-Bida. On contact, he said the ministry has assured that assistance have been made available to the affected areas and, indeed throughout the country in response to the alert. Since the Federal Government does not have health facilities all over, the health would rely on those of the states and local government councils which are located in the communities to reach the people.
The Director General of NEMA said while all available avenues were being utilized in the campaign against the epidemics, the agency has mobilized its zonal offices to partner with the states, local governments, communities and other stakeholders to control the consequences of the health hazards. The agency has also adopted the use of the media to create awareness and mobilize against the epidemics.
Audu-Bida said people need not panic over the epidemics but should promptly refer all sickness to the health facilities nearest to them for immediate diagnosis and treatment. This is in line with the position of the experts that say early diagnosis and treatment of the sickness are vital to reduce the risk of death or complications.
In the face of the present daunting task, everybody is a stakeholder. The contributions of all would make the difference in winning the campaign against Cholera and Cerebral Spinal Meningitis.
National Emergency Management Agency,
8 Ademola Adetokunbo Crescent, Maitama, Abuja
0802 8419 313