Cholera pains push return of Wole Wole



• As Lagos Assembly Moves To Bring Back Sanitary Health Officers
• Health Commissioner Lists Dos And Don’ts Of Disease

Remember them? Those uniformed men and women who combed the nooks and crannies of communities ensuring everywhere was clean; those no-nonsense officers who handed out fines for dirty gutters and disgusting refuse heaps; and kept residents scrambling to tidy up their surroundings at the cry: “THE WOLE! WOLE! ARE HERE!” They could appear again, and sooner too.

The Lagos State House of Assembly on Wednesday called for the return of sanitary health officers and inspectors in all 57 Local Governments and Local Government Development Areas (LCDAs) of the state.

The move, which seeks to address poor hygiene and sale of contaminated edibles, follows the death of six people and about 45 others diagnosed with cholera in Isolo Local Council Development Area.

The House also called for a stakeholders’ meeting involving the Ministries of Health, Environment, Information and Strategy, and Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs. The forum would identify the root of the problem, with a view to averting future occurrence. Participants from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and all Community Development Associations (CDAs) are expected to be in attendance.

The chairman, House Committee on Health, Olusegun Olulade, raised the ‘Matter of Public Urgency’ during a plenary. He drew the attention of other lawmakers to the deaths, which occurred after the victims ate abacha, a local salad believed to have been contaminated by bacteria.

Olulade urged the state government to enlist the services of health inspection officers from each Local Government and Local Council Development Area, to monitor the activities of food sellers.

“There is also the need for the state government, through the Ministry of Information and Strategy, to commence sensitisation of residents on good hygiene and ways to care for their environment,” he said.

Another lawmaker, Rotimi Olowo, supported the plea, saying health inspection officers, popularly called wole wole, would ensure cleanliness in homes.

“Nowadays, it is common to find people cooking food on septic tanks or beside open drainage. How will there not be cholera, dysentery or any other deadly disease resulting from eating contaminated food?” he asked.

Supporting the motion, the Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa, commended the state government for prompt tackling of the outbreak through identification of the affected community and quarantine of infected persons.

The Commissioner for Health, Jide Idris, said the ministry had instituted measures for quick containment and control of the outbreak, deploying educators, disease surveillance/notification officers, and environmental health officers.

“Chlorination of water supply has been intensified, awareness campaign is ongoing, and cases are being promptly diagnosed and appropriately managed in our hospitals,” he said.

He disclosed that of the 45 people diagnosed, 26 cases were managed at the Isolo General Hospital and Lagos Mainland Hospital. Twenty-two were discharged. One person died, while three others on admission at the Lagos Mainland Hospital were in stable condition.

“Seventeen of the cases were managed at private health facilities: Healing Cross Hospital, Isolo, four cases; Bola Hospital Isolo, five cases; West Care Hospital, Ejigbo, five cases; and New Line Hospital, Isolo, three cases. Three of the 17 patients died. All the 14 cases on admission have been discharged.

“The main suspected source of infection is the salad called abacha, a staple food of residents of Isolo LCDA and adjoining LGAs/LCDAs. Some domestic wells within the communities are also suspected. Samples of the salad and well water were collected and sent to the Lagos State Drug Quality Control Laboratory for analysis.”

The Commissioner advised the public to observe the following precautionary measures, to prevent spread of the disease: washing of hands with soap and water frequently and thoroughly, especially after using the restroom; boiling of water before drinking, especially when not sure of the source of infection; keeping all cooking utensils, plates, cutleries, cups and other materials clean before and after use; covering of foods and water sources.

Others are: adequate cooking of foods; storing of foods in fridges; washing of fruits and vegetables thoroughly; appropriate disposal of waste materials; avoidance of open defecation; avoidance of body contact, especially hand contact with faeces; regular food handlers’ test; and provision of effective and hygienic toilet facility.

Medical Director of New Line Hospital, Sani Rotimi, who attended to three of the victims, said they claimed they had eaten rice and abacha. He was, however, not sure if the contamination came from the food or water they consumed.

“One of them told us that the last meal she had was rice and she was not the only person in the family that ate it. During that heavy rainfall, there might have been a mix in drinking water and water from the sewage. If you look at the community, there are no good toilet facilities there,” he said.

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