This Day (Lagos)

7 January 2013

Nigeria: Snakes Take Over Homes in Ohaji/Egbema Council

The Federal Ministry of Health Taskforce on the mitigation of health occurrences attributable to the 2012 flood disaster in some parts of the country yesterday raised the alarm over the outbreak of water-borne diseases including typhoid, paratyphoid fever and malaria in the five states of the South-east, following last year's flood disaster in the area.

While diseases such as pneumonia, coughs, measles as well as high cases of malaria affected most of the displaced flood victims in most of the states in the zone, the taskforce equally alerted residents of most of the affected communities in Imo State to be conscious of the presence of poisonous snakes which now invade houses of people especially in Ohaji/Egbema local government area.

Briefing journalists shortly after rounding off their tour of the states in the zone, the leader of the taskforce and a Public Health Consultant, Dr. John Onyeokoro, disclosed that his committee also discovered that the people suffered heavy psychological trauma as a result of the loss of their property, persons as well as farm lands.

Onyeokoro, who said his committee visited Abia, Imo, Enugu and Ebonyi States, noted that the increase in malaria may have been as a result of the non-usage of mosquito treated nets by persons who were displaced as a result of the flood disaster.

While noting that the reason for the setting up of the taskforce was to find out the effect of the flood disaster on the health of the communities to enable the intervention of the Federal Ministry of Health, the team leader expressed dismay at the effect of the flood on the lives of the people, saying "its better imagined."

Giving detailed account of how his committee worked, he said questionnaires were distributed in the affected areas in order to get enough information about the mortality and morbidity pattern that was the outcome of the disaster.

He said about 28 communities that cut across three local governments were affected in Imo State.

The consultant also disclosed that the state government had started fumigation of the affected areas in Ohaji/Egbema, while expecting further assistance from the Federal Government.

In Abia State, he said initial report indicated that communities were more affected than farm lands with critical cases in two local governments of over 18 communities.

The Assistant Director Epidemic Control in the Federal Ministry of Health (FMH), Godswill Etim, who led the team to Ebonyi State, said the cause of the flood in the area was as a result of the overflow of Cross River into Ebonyi River.

He noted that the Federal Government through the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) initially provided some relief materials as interim measure, adding that the second batch of such materials was still being expected.

He stated that after harmonising their findings in the entire states, they would make their recommendations known to the Minister of Health.

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