A fresh outbreak of Diarrhea has claimed the lives of 30 children in Imo State. According to reports, the death toll has risen to 30 in the last few weeks and hundreds of children in many local hospitals are suspected to have been infected.
Confirming the incident while playing host to a delegation from Nigerian Agip Oil Company Limited in Owerri, the State Commissioner for Health and Women Affairs, Barr Ngozi Njoku, said the disease has been relatively common in the 637 autonomous communities in the state due to absence of potable water.
According to her, residents of the state always depend on water from streams and boreholes for drinking and domestic activities.
She said 65 suspected cases had been reported in Ikeduru Council Area alone, while areas like Orlu, Owerri West, Ohaji, Egbema, Owerri North, and Ngor Okpala areas had also reported cases.
“We got this report last week. This disease started as far back as January, but we didn’t think it was that serious because we were pre-occupied with Lassa fever. By the time we finished Lassa fever issue, we started having reports. So many children are admitted in several hospitals across the state. In the Ministry, we have got so many cases. In fact, we recently got report that 65 people from Ikeduru are infected with the disease. Apart from Ikeduru, Orlu, Owerri West and a lot of other areas have reported so many cases too.”
Mrs. Njoku said the state government has concluded plans to hold sensitization outreach programmes to inform residents of the state about diarrhea.
She advised parents however, to administer oral dehydration therapy (ORT) which is a combination of tepid water, sugar and salt to help affected children regain the water they lose as a result of constant stooling.
UNICEF reported in 2015 that 800 of about 1,400 child deaths in Nigeria were caused by diarrhea, which could be attributed to poor sanitation and inadequate water.
According to the report, children at the first month of their lives were very vulnerable to the diseases, which is easily transmitted through unwashed hands.
An average of 82 per cent of people wash their hands before eating, while only 53 per cent of people washed their hands with soap after defecation. About 14 per cent of people wash their hands with soap after cleaning a child’s faeces which posed a serious public health risk.
Regular hand washing with soap after using toilet, after changing children’s nappies and before eating or handling food saves more lives than any single vaccine or medical intervention. It can reduce deaths from diarrhea by almost half and deaths from acute respiratory infections by one-quarter.
Meanwhile, an outbreak of measles and whooping cough have been reported in Sule-Tankarkar Local Government Area of Jigawa State,which have left six children dead and over 249 others infected.