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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Love in the Time of Cholera in Nigeria


A child receiving treatment for cholera in Nigeria.

While millions of other Nigerians are exchanging and sharing love greetings and gifts to celebrate the Valentine's Day, many families are mourning in Bayelsa and Rivers states in the Niger Delta as the outbreak of cholera claimed the lives of more than 56 people. But there was still a Valentine's Day party in Yenagoa and lovers will still flock to Bishop's Court Erepa Road in Yenagoa Sunday evening for the "Nite of A Million Laff, Season 2" with MC Koboko, other comedians and upcoming musicians. So, I am calling it Love in the Time of Cholera, using the title of the love novel of Gabriel García Márquez (1927 - 2014), the great Colombian novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter and journalist who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982. 


As I was at work yesterday and exchanging love messages and calls, I could not ignore the reports of the cholera outbreaks and the unfortunate victims who died before Valentine's Day and left their bereaved families harrowing in sorrow.  To these ones mourning their dead, any celebration would be meaningless to them, except the condolences of sympathizers. The love the others still on admission in the emergency wards of different hospitals need most is urgent medication to save their precious lives before it is too late. 

The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) on Valentine's Day Saturday donated drugs and relief materials to the Bayelsa State government for the treatment of patients.  The commission has also donated medical supplies to the Rivers State government. 

In Bayelsa, the cases of cholera are in Sagbama Local Government Area (LGA) where the Governor Seriake Dickson comes from and also in Ologi community of Ogbia Local Government Area (LGA) and Southern Ijaw LGA of the Speaker of the Bayelsa House of Assembly. 

More than 171 cases of cholera have been reported in different communities in Andoni Local Government Area of Rivers State since the first week of January and some cases were reported in Anambra State in the south eastern region.

The outbreaks of cholera in Bayelsa, Rivers and other states in Nigeria show the failures of the government to provide safe water supply and sanitary measures for the poor. 
The president, governors and other government officials have been distracted by the crucial 2015 general elections and wining the elections means more to them than responding to the national emergency of cholera epidemic since 2010 to date. Cholera killed more than 800 people in Adamawa State in December 2013 as reported by Bloomberg. According to UNICEF Nigeria:
about 70 million people, out of a population of 171 million lacked access to safe drinking water, and over 110 million lacked access to improved sanitation in 2013. Open defecation rates, at 28.5 per cent pose grave public health risks. Every year, an estimated 124,000 children under the age of 5 die because of diarrhoea, mainly due to unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene. Lack of adequate water and sanitation are also major causes of other diseases, including respiratory infection and under-nutritition. Every year, an estimated 124,000 children under the age of 5 die because of diarrhoea, mainly due to unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene. Lack of adequate water and sanitation are also major causes of other diseases, including respiratory infection and under-nutritition.~ Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)





The best Valentine's Day gifts to give Nigerians is the UNICEF's Valentine's Day Love Bundle and the contesting politicians from the local government to the state house will gain more support when they give these bundles of love to the voters everywhere in Nigeria and help UNICEF to support the Nigerian government to provide more safe water and sanitation for our children who are the future voters and leaders of Nigeria.


Give UNICEF Love Bundle this Valentine's Day to share your love with the world's children. This thoughtful gift is a great alternative to the usual flowers and chocolates and most importantly, will provide vital supplies to children who need it most. Includes 100 pencils and 2 storybooks to help a lifelong learning journey to unfold, as well as 45 Therapeutic Food Plumpy' Nut sachets to provide children with nutrition and vital energy.


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