By, Jutha Gupah, Maiduguri
The United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) reproductive health specialists, Homsuk Swomen has said that the outbreaks of cholera in the North-East insurgency affected region; posed grave risks to both
pregnant women and children below the age of five.
Swomen disclosed this on Thursday in Maiduguri, while briefing journalists on measures prevent further spread of cholera that claimed 54 lives in the metropolis and camps.
He said that Borno state and the northeast, were ravaged by the destructive activities of Boko Haram terrorists that destroyed several health facilities.
His words: “The eight-year violence from the Boko Haram crisis had disrupted health and sanitation systems and left 1.7 million people displaced in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states.
“In August, a cholera outbreak took hold in Borno, further threatening communities already subsumed by the humanitarian crisis. Many pregnant women and children are currently living in camps or host communities
“The disease, which causes dangerous levels of dehydration, has put women – especially pregnant women – at particular risk. “The water borne disease puts an enormous extra stress on the body of
the pregnant woman and on the unborn baby.”
He said studies show that cholera infections during pregnancy can lead to sudden loss of the fetus, premature delivery, stillbirth and an increased mortality and morbidity, both for the baby and the mother.
On Boko Haram insurgency, he said: “And due to the ongoing conflict, many pregnant women are malnourished, aggravating their vulnerability to cholera and the consequences if they fall sick,” he said.
“In all our efforts, we need to understand that cholera is not gender neutral.”
Dr. Mohammed Ghuluze, the Borno State Ministry of Health’s Director of Medical Emergency Response, pointed out women’s and girls’ domestic responsibilities in the home.
He said the domestic responsibilities meant they were less likely to participate in awareness-raising activities about cholera prevention.
“Special efforts need to be undertaken to include them in the information efforts around cholera prevention and response,” said Dr. Ghuluze.
He said the health and humanitarian partners are working around the clock to treat patients and prevent the further spread of the disease.