Organization skills

Floods – World Health Organization on site to assist government in mitigating outbreaks in hardest hit settlements in Kogi State

Nigeria is experiencing widespread destruction from flooding, affecting millions of people in 35 states.

From hilly areas to plains, the floods washed away homes, infrastructure, crops and livestock.

When the flood waters began to rise in his village, Mr. Emos John, 48, and his wife were at a loss as to what to do.

Leaving their land in the village (Ejulejebe community in Ibaji Local Government Area, Kogi State), which they depended on for food, was a difficult decision.

“The experience was terrible because I woke up at midnight and got into the water.

“It was like a dream, and my family had to move. I lost my farmland of more than 5 hectares of rice and other investments worth N500,000. The flood drove my family away from home, and I’m currently unemployed and struggling financially,” he said.

For the past few weeks, they have been living in a seminary in Idah, Kogi State, and the non-flooded seminary is now home to around 178 flood-displaced people.

During this period, John’s wife miscarried, losing her six-week pregnancy.

“The loss of pregnancy and the sudden disruption affected me psychologically. Our farmland and almost every building, including the health facility in our city, was overwhelmed. I have yet to hear of some of my elderly parents trapped in the flood because they refused to travel to Idah. I cannot reach my uncle’s 70-year-old widow to inquire about her condition,” he said. he lamented.

Floods, large or small, can have devastating effects on people’s health. Nigeria is suffering its worst flooding in a decade, forcing millions from their homes. In Kogi State, residents are doing their best to survive as farmlands, homes as well as more than 90 health facilities have been flooded.

Reaching vulnerable people

Many villages are inundated, with displaced people staying in tents, temporary settlements or primary and secondary schools converted into camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Unlike Mr. John and his family who are staying at the seminary, Aisha Abubakar, 46, and her family live in a school.

Ms. Abubakar said, “My family and neighbors are from Adonkolo village in Kogi state. Our properties were submerged, buildings collapsed and our farmland was destroyed. We now sleep on the floor, have no soap to wash and bathe in, and limited menstrual hygiene products.

Ms. Abubakar said, “We are counting on the government and its partners such as the WHO, who have provided support with water supply and medicine.

“In addition, WHO conducted a series of awareness-raising activities on personal hygiene (bathing, washing clothes and plates), sanitation and preventive measures to prevent outbreaks of diseases such as malaria, Lassa fever and cholera in the camp.

In return, we complied with the Infection Prevention Control (IPC) method. We provide regular washing, bathing and sweeping of the room and surrounding areas and advise everyone to keep dirty plates or food nearby that may attract rats,” she said.

Common risks associated with flooding include contamination of drinking water facilities by sewage, waste and chemicals. Flooding also results in standing water, which can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other vectors.

Also appreciating the intervention of the WHO, Mr John, now the IDP coordinator in Idah, said that the WHO had facilitated awareness of staff hygiene, sanitation and other preventive measures. to keep him healthy.

“They provided us with mosquito nets, mobile health services and awareness on how we can prevent infectious diseases associated with flooding, poor sanitation and overcrowded areas,” he said.

Faced with the scale of the flood’s devastating effect, Kogi State Health Commissioner Dr Usman Zakari said the flood had caused more devastation than in 2012.

Dr. Zakari appreciated the WHO and other UN agencies as well as other stakeholders for their support in mitigating the effects of the flood.

“Many people, including women and children, are currently displaced and health services are disrupted. This can increase the risk of disease outbreaks and snakebites.”

The state government is working with partners including the WHO to reduce the impact of the flooding on health services by providing health care services in temporary facilities. WHO supported the state by providing leadership and coordination in collecting baseline data on the number of health facilities affected by the floods. In Kogi, nine out of 21 local government areas (LGAs) are affected and 92 health facilities previously serving a population of 338,408 are partially (66) or completely (26) flooded, he said.

Additional Support

Many flood victims in Kogi State, like John, suffer varying degrees of physical and social impairment. economic, emotional; and psychological stress. To alleviate the situation, it is also providing emergency health kits, mobile medical teams and emergency health experts to support a multi-sector flood response in affected states in Nigeria.

In Kogi State, WHO distributed non-food items including mosquito nets and hygiene items, delivered 90 International Emergency Health Kits (IEHK-2017) estimated to treat 900,000 people in 3 months (300,000 per month) against communicable diseases in flood-affected areas.

WHO State Coordinator Dr Sebastian Okwu said the rapid response team has been engaged for emergency response such as WASH and data management, 10 mobile health teams have been deployed to the temporary shelters to provide health services, and three management support teams were deployed to provide expertise. , skills and strength with the emergency response system.

“Assistance is important to prevent an outbreak of communicable diseases, provide continued health services and interventions to displaced people living in makeshift and temporary shelters where diseases may spread faster given the close living conditions” , did he declare.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of the World Health Organization (WHO) – Nigeria.