With a total land mass of 70,898 square kilometres, Borno is second to Niger state out of the 36 states in Nigeria. It is 20 times the size of Lagos.
However, The violence unleashed by Bokoharam on communities in Borno state, among other state in the north east, has left millions of people homeless in the last seven years, thereby forcing government to establish resettlement camps to cater for the displaced. As imaginary, Most of the IDPS camps in Maiduguri the Borno State Capital is overflowing with people but with poor health services installed in them.
They are characterised by dirty environment, insufficient food supply and short of beds. The IDPS live in unhealthy environment, exposing them to infectious and contagious diseases. Many of them stay in classrooms that have no windows and doors, and sleep on bare floors. Some of the camps are overgrown with bushes that are friendly environment for mosquitoes to rise in and are home to rodents and snakes. It takes little time and effort to fix such issues.
The normal health care system was over stretched, leading to a critical emergency situation when 21 out of 27 general hospitals in each local government area of the state were displaced and many personnel in the hospitals relocated to Maiduguri. Base on the fact that during hot season diseases such as Cerebro Spinal Meningitis, CSM become more prevalent.
Meningitis is a deadly infection that affects the delicate membranes known as meninges which cover the brain and spinal cord. It is viral or bacterial infection is contagious among people in close contact. Health expert also named fungal meningitis as a rare type of meningitis that generally occurs only in people with weakened immune systems.
Meningitis is usually caused by an infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis is also caused by infection of viruses, bacteria, fungi, among others. Symptoms of the disease include fever, reluctance to feed, vomiting and diarrhoea, irritability, difficult breathing to mention a few.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease control, NCDC, had on Thursday 30/3/2017 confirmed the outbreak of Cerebro Spinal Meningitis, CSM, in five states that included Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Niger, and Kebbi with at least 282 deaths related to disease. The chief executive officer of the Centre, Chikwe Ihekweazu, made this known to the News Agency of Nigeria NAN in Abuja.
He said the board focused on internally displaced persons (IDPs) for the vaccination exercise because of their vulnerability. Last year the world health organisation (WHO) donated lifesaving medical to supplies to three health sector partners responding to the emergency health needs of internally displaced people (IDPs) while training health workers on early warning and alert system
To prevent the meningitis disease Antibiotics can be given to help prevent meningitis this is because bacterial meningitis can be life threatening, avoid close contact with someone who has meningitis, getting vaccinated against meningitis is consider as the most popular and effective way to prevent the disease. Avoid sharing of personal items like water bottle, toothbrush, lipsticks, cigarette and the rest.
Therefore lasting solution to the health threat faced by the IDPS in various camps would be for government to act to end the insurgency and also bring back peace to areas distraught by communal clashes so that all displaced people can return to their homes and begin to live a regular life again.
NEMA and its counterpart agencies in the state where IDPs camps exist should strive to improve the sanitary conditions at the refugee centres.
Camp premises should be fumigated with herbicides to kill the overgrown grasses. Effort should equally be made to provide treated mosquito’s nets to the IDPs equip camp clinics with proper drugs for the treatment of transferable diseases and ensure that IDPs have access to clean water.
Because NEMA and SEMA were established to provide only immediate help to victims of crises the interference by these agencies in the north east which is supposed to be provisional has become a load on their resources because of the long-standing time it is taking the government to bring the causative factors of the crises to an end,. IDPs are advised to avoid crowded places and ensure crossed ventilation in their camps to prevent the spread of the disease. They should also avoid sleeping in overcrowded condition and if a lot of people must sleep together in the same room, the windows and doors must be open to allow enough ventilation. -Amina Shettima Abbagana and Garba yakubu are 300 level Students of Mass Communication Department University of Maiduguri.
SOURCE: The Nigerian Voice (opinions)