At least 30 people have died in Bayelsa State following the outbreak of cholera there about a fortnight ago. Medical doctors in the state who are battling to contain the health crisis told SaharaReporters that the inadequate supply of potable water was one of the major reasons for the acuteness of the disease. “The situation has even affected public health institutions,” one doctor told our correspondent.
At the Federal Medical Center in Yenagoa, the state capital, water vendors popularly called “meruwa” remain the dominant source of water supply. “Can you imagine a situation where hospital authorities have to buy water from vendors who supply water in tankers. And yet nobody knows how hygienic the vendors’ water supply is in the first place,” the doctor added.
The cholera outbreak was reported two weeks ago in Sagbama and Southern Ijaw local government areas. Our sources disclosed that the situation appears to be worsening due to the poor handling of the epidemic.
Of the identified death toll, eight victims were from the communities of Osiama and Ekede in Sagbama, the local government area of Governor Seriake Dickson, while twelve victims hailed from Southern Ijaw, the local council of Kombowei Benson, Speaker of the Bayelsa House of Assembly.
The Bayelsa State Commissioner for Health, Ayiabatonye Owei, confirmed the cholera outbreak but declined to give figures of casualties. One of the doctors involved in the anti-cholera effort described the commissioner’s reluctance to release death figures as evidence of “insincerity of the government to deal with the epidemic.”
A resident of Ekede told SaharaReporters that any ailing person who vomited and stooled a lot before dying was hurriedly buried to forestall any further infection.
Several doctors urged the state and Federal governments to use their public health agencies to provide potable water to the affected communities as part of efforts to bring the outbreak under control. “Unless the relevant health agencies wake up to their responsibilities, the situation is likely to become critically worse, with more patients dying needlessly,” one doctor said.