Strange illness kills 70 children in Lagos community

Posted by News Express | 20 February 2016 | 4,105 times

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Residents of Otodogame community in Eti-Osa, Lagos State, have been thrown into mourning following the mysterious death of their children. Investigation reveals that children between the ages of 2-8 years in Otodogame, a slum community, are dying in their numbers following an outbreak of a strange epidemic.

According to the residents, about 70 children have died in the last six weeks in a strange way residents are attributing to the lack of immunisation of infants in the community in the last three years.

One of the bereaved parents, Bose Peter, lost one of her twins – one year and six months old daughter Paulina, on February 1, after a brief illness. The bereaved mother said: “My twins had severe fever. Their temperature was very high and I was scared. I called my husband and we took our twins, Paul and Paulina, to a private hospital. The doctor treated them but when we got home, Paulina’s health worsened and she died later in the night.

“Paul is in critical condition. My family and I have been mourning Paulina. She was a very happy girl. I have been in shock over her demise. I am scared for Paul. I don’t want my son to also die because he is also ill. I have never immunised any of my children for Polio, measles and other diseases because the health workers do not come to our community. The health workers have not been to our community for the past three years.”

Bose’s husband, Mr. Peter, could not hold back tears as he stated that other families in the community have also been thrown into mourning as they too have lost children. He said: “We do not know what is happening. We are tired because you hear one child had died in this family and as you are going to condole with the family, another family would cry out that their child had died. This is happening every two days interval. We are having high rate of infant mortality in the last six weeks.

“At first, we were not bothered because we thought it was spiritual attack and we engaged prayer warriors to fast and pray. We also prayed and had vigil to stop the deaths of our children. However, when we saw that the deaths were too many, we had to prevail on the Baale (traditional ruler) to call for help. He was the one that raised the alarm when we observed that close to 70 children had died due to this strange ailment ravaging our community.

“Many of the bereaved families have relocated. We do not have any government clinic in this community. Most of us are Fisher men and our wives sell the fish. We live in a slum but we do not have any government presence here.”

Another bereaved parent, Avoda Philomena, said she lost her two-year-old daughter Esther due to the strange ailment. She said: “At first I thought it was fever and I treated her with traditional medicine but when the high fever persisted, I took her to the private hospital but she died shortly after. A lot of my neighbours have relocated because of the strange ailment. We are calling on the government to come to our rescue before more children will die and it will spread to adults and the elderly.”

Following the outcry to the State Government, health workers visited the community last week and began immunisation of children while they also treated the sick. It was further gathered that the health workers took samples of the soil for laboratory examination so as to find out the cause of the ailment.

Speaking on the epidemic outbreak, the President of the Rural Urban Development Initiative (RUDI), Mr. Agbodimu Musbau, expressed concern over the lack of urgent medical attention in the community.

He said: “Otodogame community is one of the slum communities that have experienced forced eviction and arson just to get the residents, more than 1,000 of them, to relocate. We found out that due to the desire to get them away, the government and health workers were not going to the community to immunise the children. This is not good for government to neglect the poor and vulnerable. We are appealing to government to come to their rescue and provide the residents with good medical facilities and treatment to check the spread of the ailment and other diseases in the community.”

Meanwhile, the Lagos State Government has called for calm over the disease described as febrile rash. The Commissioner of health, Dr. Jide Idris, made the call in a press conference in the ministry. According to him, the information gathered by the ministry states that about 34 cases of the disease have been recorded; 17 male and 17 female, with 20 confirmed dead. The commissioner revealed that blood samples have been taken by the investigative committee in order to confirm the cause of the deadly illness. He said that “the ministry drew up an investigation plan to investigate the outbreak, verify reported deaths and report findings and recommendations. And the state is doing everything in its capacity to safeguard the slum part of the state with different strategic plans, including proper sanitation process and proper orientation among the 100 thousand population in the community. The disease causing the outbreak is yet to be confirmed.”

•Extracted from a Saturday Mirror report. Photo, also courtesy of the paper, shows the afflicted Otodogame community, Lagos.


Source: News Express

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