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Internally displaced persons fear an outbreak of cholera after the deaths of three children

31 August 2023
Reading time: 3 minutes

Three young children died at the weekend from what healthcare workers have said are malnutrition and starvation but what internally displaced persons (IDPs) believe is cholera at a camp in the Jere Local Government Area.

The parents of the children said the symptoms were similar to those of cholera: serious vomiting, body rashes, high fevers and diarrhoea.

But Lawan Modu, a healthcare worker at Fariya IDP camp, was emphatic that there was not an outbreak of cholera. However, he urged IDPs to take special care to adopt strict personal hygiene to prevent any kind of diseases, not just cholera. He said this was particularly important during the rainy season.

Modu Gana, a resident of the camp, told RNI that he had lost his young son to an “unknown sickness”.

He said: “My child suffered from a disease that caused regular vomiting, body rashes, an excessively high fever and diarrhoea. I thought he was suffering from cholera. But when I took him to a hospital, the doctor told me my child was suffering from starvation and malnutrition.

“It came as a shock to me. I could not afford to buy nutritious food for him because we are poor and our living conditions are not good. We brought our child back from the hospital but he died on Saturday morning [August 26] and we buried him in the afternoon.”

He said another child with cholera-like symptoms had died on the same day and a third had died on Sunday.

He called on the government to help IDPs by providing nutritious food, adequate medical facilities, as well as proper toilet and sanitation facilities.

“If this does not happen other children will continue to die because of hunger, malnutrition and diseases,” he said.

Bulama Musa, a ward head at Fariya, said residents believed that the three children had died from cholera because the symptoms were so similar.

“But some health workers have confirmed that it was not cholera and said it was from starvation and malnutrition.

“The deaths of these three children is making us panic. We fear that there will be an outbreak of cholera here. A cholera outbreak is possible because of our poor living conditions, poor sanitation and unhygienic and inadequate toilets facilities.”

Modu confirmed that the sanitation and toilet facilities at the camp were poor, adding that the children often played in dirty puddles left over from the rain. It was possible that this contaminated water had made the children ill.

He was adamant that there was not an outbreak of cholera in the camp.

Modu said most of the children who were hospitalised were suffering from severe hunger and malnutrition. Even though they appeared to have the same symptoms of cholera, he blamed their illnesses on exposure to contaminated water and the use of unhygienic toilets. Because they were starving and were suffering from malnutrition, their small bodies lacked immunity and could not fight off illnesses.

He said health workers at the camp had held meetings with residents to emphasise the importance of taking care of their personal hygiene.

“We advised them to wash their hands regularly and to keep the environment clean. We told them about the dangers of drinking or using contaminated water. We told them they need to keep everything as hygienic as possible to prevent outbreaks of diseases, such as cholera.”



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