Overflow of rivers affects 826,000 in 12 States
No fewer than 826,000 Nigerians are severely affected by heavy flooding after the banks of the country’s two main rivers, the Niger and the Benue, busted following heavy rain, which began in August.
In its reaction, Head of World Health Organisation (WHO) in Nigeria, Dr Wondimagegnehu Alemu, said the organisation was stepping up efforts to provide life-saving assistance.
Alemu said WHO would provide basic medical care to flood victims in the country to prevent disastrous epidemics.
“The disaster is now affecting 12 out of 36 states according to the National Emergency Management Agency, with 176,300 people displaced, more than 150,000 hectares of farmland inundated, 17,800 houses washed away and 321 roads and bridges destroyed.
“The floods have so far claimed about 200 lives and a state of national disaster has been declared in the four most-affected states of Kogi, Niger, Anambra and Delta.”
Alemu also said that the United Nations and its partners were carrying out rapid assessments and scaling up support to the government’s emergency response agencies.
He said WHO had deployed experts to strengthen surveillance and early warning systems while also working to ensure that essential drugs were available in newly-created camps for displaced families.
“In addition to the immediate destructions and loss of lives, floods can severely affect the health of the affected population, even after the water levels have receded.
“Floods and their consequences, including a lack of drinkable water, shelter, and overflowing sanitation systems, can easily lead to the spread of communicable and water-borne diseases, such as cholera and malaria.
“In addition, access to healthcare and essential drugs can be difficult if health facilities are damaged.
“We can efficiently mitigate these risks if they are properly assessed and if disaster response measures are in place,” Alemu explained.
To facilitate the mobilisation of resources for the response to the flooding, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies launched an emergency appeal, seeking close to 5.5 million dollars.
The funds are to support 300,000 of the most vulnerable flood-affected people for the next nine months, with shelter and basic household items.
The funds would also enable protection of livelihoods through cash transfers and provision of health care, water and sanitation supplies.
“The country’s Northeast zone is in the grip of one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises due to conflict and already suffering various cholera outbreaks in the states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.
“This makes it crucial for humanitarian partners to effectively monitor and control the effects of flooding in the rest of the country.
“In the coming days, the UN humanitarian chief, Mark Lowcock, and the Head of UN Development Programme, Achim Steiner, will visit the region, spending Friday and Saturday in Nigeria, and then moving on to neighbouring Chad,” he said.
Also, the Nigerian Cardiac Society (NCS) says one out of every three adults in Nigeria suffer from high blood pressure.
Dr Okechukwu Ogah, the President of the association, said the rising prevalence of high blood pressure was caused by unhealthy and sedentary lifestyle.
“At the just concluded 47th Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference of the Nigerian Cardiac Society, it was noted with great concern that the frequency of heart disease in Nigeria is not only high but rising.
“The increase in heart disease may not be unconnected to the current lifestyle that favours physical inactivity and consumption of unhealthy diets, rich in dietary salt,” he said.
Ogah, a consultant cardiologist at the Department of Medicine, University College Hospital, Ibadan, said that more people were presenting to hospitals with cases of heart attack like never before.
He appealed to people to take personal responsibility for their health through healthy diet and regular physical exercise.
“The hitherto almost non-existent cases of heart attacks are now seen more often in the hospitals.
“Together, we all can reduce the projected burden of heart diseases and stroke by becoming more physically active, eating right and quitting tobacco for good.
“It is also prudent to do regular medical check-up, including blood pressure check, even when there is no apparent ill-health.
“One is never too young or too old to make healthy lifestyle choices.’’
Ogah said that making the right choices would not only keep one healthy, today, but also prevent premature deaths from stroke and heart diseases.
“Exercises, such as brisk walking, gardening, jogging, dancing, engaging in house-chores three times a week will be just fine and can be easy and fun especially when it is built into the daily routine.
He also advised people to limit consumption of fatty and processed foods, including soda and to increase intake of fresh fruits, vegetables were invaluable in maintaining heart health.
Meanwhile, award-winning Nollywood Diva and humanitarian, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, has been honoured as one of the 100 most influential people of African descent by the United Nations.
The thespian wrote on her Instagram page: “Honoured to be one of the Most Influential 100 People of African Descent at the United Nations by @mipad100.”
Earlier in the year, Jalade-Ekeinde was named alongside Nigerian media mogul Mo Abudu among the “top 50 women doing extraordinary things on the worldwide stage” by the Variety Magazine Awards.
Jalade-Ekeinde, who made her acting début in 1995, is reputed to have appeared in over 300 films and received accolades for her remarkable humanitarian efforts.
In 2013, she was honoured in Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world alongside Michelle Obama, Beyoncé and Kate Middleton.
She was also honoured with the Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR) in 2014 by the Federal government for her contributions to Nigerian cinema.