Poor sanitation condition in Mpape, a slum in Abuja, is a threat to the healthy living of the residents, AWAAL GATA writes
Sited just a few kilometres away from the city centre, Mpape was always in the news last year because the FCTA’ Development Control wanted to demolish some parts of it, which residents loudly protested. However, it was in the news for a different case again recently. This time around it was about the outbreak of cholera which reportedly killed many of the residents.
Located in Bwari Area Council, Mpape is said to be housing about 10, 000 residents from various ethnic groups in the country.
But despite the population and its proximity to the city centre, it is lacking infrastructure. There are no roads, no potable water, power supply is relatively too epileptic, and worse of all is the community’s poor sanitation condition. The poor sanitation condition poses a threat to the residents’ healthy living.
When there were hues and cries about an outbreak of a killer disease in the community recently, many attributed the outbreak to the poor sanitation condition, hence many are now calling for government’s intervention for a sanitised environment.
The disease, which affected just a section of the community, Unguwar Rimi, not far from the Gwari village, was said to have been facilitated by a drainage turned into a refuse dump ground by the residents.
Habibu Ali, a resident who lost one of his brothers to the outbreak, confirmed that the environments was always very dirty, adding that it might have contributed to the outbreak of the disease.
He attributed the inability of the residents to adequately dispose their refuse to lack of access roads for vehicles to evacuate the dirt.
“People dump refuse at that tree because there is no road, the absence of roads also stops government from doing something in the community,” he said.
The situation of the community leaves one to wonder if cholera is not probable in the community said Sandra Isaac, a resident.
She said residents indiscriminately dump their refuse in a water channel and around houses. They patronised water hawkers due to the absence of a functional borehole and the sanitation of the community is abysmally poor.
According to her, the main symptoms of the disease are watery stool and vomiting which result in dehydration. Transmission of the disease occurs primarily by drinking water or eating food that has been contaminated by the faeces of an infected person.
The community, described as an urban slum, is made up of interlocked buildings with no provision for drainages and potable water source. A resident, who was seen dumping refuse at the drainage which has a make shift bridge, said the water channel has been the only place where residents dump their waste.
Hamza Auna has been living in the community for about two years with his wife and two kids. He said he would do everything to ensure their safety apart from moving out of Mpape due to his inability to secure a better place. As such, his family drinks sachet water while he ensures that antiseptic is applied in their bathing water.
He said: “The outbreak of cholera in the community is real, I do not know why the government is trying to give it another name, what could have been killing people at such rate all of a sudden. How can you be vomiting and stooling and passed it on to another person if not cholera?”
Though he and members of his family were not affected, he said “there was a man, he is gentle and usually greets whenever he passes by, I was sad when I learnt about his death to this sudden illness.”
As a means of curbing the spread of the disease, health and environment authorities of the Bwari Area Council engaged in mass sensitisation about the causes and prevention of cholera, the council shared water guard, antiseptic soaps and other needed items for the protection of the residents.
The authority of the council also instituted a free medical treatment for anybody infected with the illness. Infected people were told to report at the community primary healthcare centre for free treatment.
Ayuba Malam was among the few residents that benefitted from the government largesse, he said that his daughter who was infected received free treatment at the healthcare centre in the community.
According to the Head, Health Department of the Bwari Area Council, Dr. Goji Sunday, the department when alerted by the Chief about the disease quickly mobilised its medical team to the community, saying five patients of diarrhea and vomiting were discovered and taken to the health centre.
He said: “They were admitted and treatment started. They were not very serious cases so the patients were discharged the next day. We also had two new cases that were reported, which were also treated and they were discharged. As I said, we did a rapid diagnostic test on the five people initially admitted and two of them had signs that it might be cholera.
“As I’m speaking to you, we have mobilised our teams to the community, visited the chief and sensitised them on what to do and the need to maintain a higher personal hygiene.
Sunday described the community as urban slum, saying: “Structures are not properly planned, no good drainages, so you might have these factors that will encourage this outbreak of vomiting and diarrhea. Therefore, we are currently sensitising the community, the council has provided drugs, free treatment of people that might be affected, and we encourage the community, if there are those cases, they should bring them to the health facility and not keep them at home.
“The casualty figures are varying and we can’t really ascertain yet. It is just based on the report we have from the community, they said the first patient that reported here was on Saturday and the team that saw the patient treated him and referred the patient to Maitama General Hospital. It was unfortunate, the patient went back home and never went to the hospital, I think that patient eventually passed away.”