*Reps member says outdated manner of open defecation unacceptable
By; VITALIS UGOH, Calabar
A total of 286 people have been hospitalized while 19 others died in the recent outbreak of cholera that ravaged some communities in Obubra Local Government Area of Cross River State.
The member representing Obubra/Etung Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Mike Etaba, expressed sadness at the sudden outbreak of the water borne disease in Obubra communities and assured that everything including immediate remedial measures would be taken to contain it.
Rt. Hon. Mike Etaba said that the affected communities must immediately adhere strictly to prescribed health guidelines in order to have the situation reversed.
He reinstated that those embarking on unacceptable and outdated manner of open defecation which seriously undermines public health must desist from it and he therefore, called on the people to adopt hygienic methods that will help to combat the outbreak.
He disclosed also that the health of the people in his federal constituency is one of the most paramount issues in his intervention package and he has no intention of allowing the people to suffer untold hardship occasioned by health challenges.
The honourable member of the lower chamber of the National Assembly was emphatic that the age old method of open defecation is very detrimental to public health and admonished the people to dig and make use of pit toilets which should be well constructed and covered to prevent further ugly incident in the area.
He was visibly delighted that all the 14 clan heads of Okum Kingdom were present at the sensitization exercise by the Cross River State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Janet Ekpenyong, which took place at the Ohorodo’s Palace as the exercise will be of great benefit to the entire communities.
He therefore charged the traditional rulers to ensure that they take the message to their people in their various localities.
The honourable member of Parliament promised to continue to assist the people in anyway possible in order to minimise their suffering in the wake of the cholera outbreak.
Rt. Hon. Etaba noted that his intervention measures should not be seen as being politically inclined but rather a demonstration of humanitarian services to ensure that the people live meaningful lives even after the cholera outbreak.
He extended condolences to the family members who lost loved ones to the disease and equally admonished those who were not affected to be alert to health breaches such as the one at hand and to immediately take precautions.
Rt. Hon. Mike Etaba who recently toured his federal constituency and held consultative stakeholders meetings to thank them for their great love, support and unshakable loyalty to his political aspirations, expressed deep appreciation and high commendations to His Excellency, Senator (Prof) Ben Ayade, for his timely intervention when the cholera outbreak was disclosed to him.
He opined that the governor’s response of immediately dispatching an advance team to the affected areas and following it up with the visit of the Health Commissioner is a sublime demonstration of his love for the people of his federal constituency. He further disclosed that the people of Obubra Nation have never been taken for granted by Governor Ben Ayade and his prompt reaction on the cholera outbreak is a pointer to that effect.
He reiterated the need for all the people to adhere very strictly to the numerous health instructions about the best way to combat any cholera outbreaks particularly the lessons impacted on them during the brief sensitization exercise, adding that even though he is not a health practitioner, he is aware that the early symptoms of cholera are usually watery stool and other signs of ill health. He advised any person or persons so affected to immediately seek medical attention and desist from embarking on self medication.
He also admonished his constituents to follow the procedure for the right way of administering the Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORT) distributed to them by the Commissioner for Health.
He also advised the people not to mix the substances themselves but to rely on the ones already mixed and made available by the World Health Organization (WHO) which is inline with global standards.
He demonstrated his willingness to assist the people by donating N200,000 (Two Hundred Thousand) Naira to help in the purchase and immediate distribution of the Oral Rehydration Therapy packs to all the 14 autonomous communities that make up the great Okum Kingdom.
Speaking further on the outbreak of the disease, the Executive Chairman of Obubra Local Government Council, Hon. (Dr.) Bassey Tom, expressed sadness at the outbreak of cholera in his political domain and hoped that with the very effective remedial measures already put in place to combat it, the outbreak will soon be put under firm control. He described the incident as unfortunate noting that the disease started spontaneously and unfortunately about 19 persons affected by the outbreak have been confirmed dead while 200 others have also been treated and discharged to their various communities according to the health personnel working in the area.
The council helmsman reiterated the need to end open defecation which had led to the health challenge and seriously admonished the people to boil their water before drinking to avoid the outbreak of cholera on such a large scale.
Also reacting to the outbreak of the disease, the Ohorodo 1 of Okum Kingdom, His Royal Highess, Chief Mbina Mbina Agbor, noted that past political office holders did not keep their promises of providing enough boreholes for the people as enunciated in their various campaign manifestoes until the emergence of Rt. Hon. Mike Etaba, who has been of tremendous assistance to the people.
The traditional ruler therefore appealed for the sinking of more boreholes in Obubra to enable the people to change their source of water supply, adding that the outbreak of cholera is indeed rare in his domain.
The Ohorodo 1 promised to sensitize the people to make their health a top priority as health is wealth.
He observed that the outbreak came as a big surprise to everyone in Obubra and they immediately called for intervention on the part of the State Government. He said that people are still in the ugly habit of defecating openly and appealed to government to drill boreholes in the 6-7 private primary schools as well as nursery schools in the area.
The traditional ruler said that he is convening a meeting of all his subjects at the market square to deliberate on the matter and to finetune ways on how to further sensitize the people.
He thanked the governor, Senator (Prof) Ben Ayade for promptly putting up the health team that has been working tirelessly to combat the outbreak and bring it under control as well as the donation of items to the General Hospital, Obubra.
He also expressed his deep gratitude to Rt. Hon. Mike Etaba for his generous donation which will help in no small measure in purchasing the World Health Organization ORT treatment packs for onward distribution to the people.
One of those affected by the cholera outbreak who has been on admission at the General Hospital Obubra, Joy Henry, said that the outbreak of the disease came as a surprise to all of them, adding that she woke up in the middle of the night only to experience very severe stomach upset for which she complained to her parents who promptly took her to the hospital for medical examination and since then she has been on admission at the hospital.
She was thankful to the Ben Ayade led administration for responding immediately to the outbreak of the disease adding that the situation would have been worse if such remedies were not taken.
The Cross River State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Janet Ekpenyong, said that 286 cases were confirmed from Rapid Diagnosis Testing and advised the people to avoid self medication, adding that the measures so far taken are capable of bringing the outbreak under control.
On the team dispatched to the area by the Cross River State Government includes the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Janet Ekpenyong, the State Coordinator of World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Olatunde Yewande, the Director General of the Cross River State Primary Health Care Development Agency, (CRSPHCDA), Dr. AbasiOffiong Amos as well as other health officials from the ministry.
Altogether, there are 89 communities in Obubra Local Government Area out of which, 51 were affected in Constituency 1 and 2 where active cases were reported.
In Obubra Constituency 1, the General Hospital was visited by Rt. Hon. Mike Etaba and the medical team where patients from Ogada, Owakande, Imabana, Obubra Urban and other neighbouring communities were treated. In Obubra Constituency 2, the places visited were Ovonum Health Centre, Ofatura Health Centre, the Chiefs’ Palaces of Apiapum and Ovonum where patients were eaually attended to. It has been established that of the 19 persons who have passed on as a result of the disease, 18 died in the various communities while one died in the hospital as a result of late arrival. 51 active cases are being treated as at the time of this report while others have been treated and discharged.
The outbreak of cholera in Obubra is indeed a sad commentary on community health, but thanks to the Cross River State Government led by Senator (Prof) Ben Ayade and the member representing Obubra/Etung Federal Constituency, the outbreak has been brought under control to the delight of the people of Obubra and indeed, the entire Cross River State.