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Published On: Sun, Aug 10th, 2014

Ebola: Residents task AEPB on increased environmental sensitization

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AMAC Chairman, Hon Micah JibaBy Stanley Onyekwere and Mashe Umaru Gwamna

Residents of Gishiri community, a suburb settlement located adjacent Maitama District in Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has called on the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB), to create more environmental awareness for people in the area.

They said the call was necessary in the wake of growing threat of the deadly Ebola virus disease in the country, hence the need for the AEPB to educate residents on how maintain a clean and healthy environment, as part precautionary measures against the outbreak and spread of the epidemic.

Some of the residents who spoke with Peoples Daily lamented that among the many challenges facing them in the community, the government should urgently tackle poor environmental practices through effective awareness campaign in the area.

Peoples Daily reports that Gishiri, a predominantly peasant farmers and low income earners settlement, irrespective of its proximity to the city centre is ravaged by abject absence of basic facilities like pipe bone water, good access road, health care and sanitary disposal system, etc.

Checks reveal that although living conditions are far from the ideal in Gishiri, the place remains an attraction for many people, as new settlers throng into the community in numbers every year.

According to a civil servant residing in the community, Mrs. Zanya Alhassana , said AEPB should take  matter of educating inhabitants of Gishiri, as a matter that requires highest urgent attention especially at this time (Ebola virus era)

“Seriously, they should come around to check on us, because most people around here neglect the need to have a clean environment.

“Even though the AEPB officials don’t come frequently as they should, we need more enlightenment on what to do and how to take care of refuse in our various homes, especially the use of waste,”   she stressed.

Another resident, Abba Ali, opined that considering the link between the spread of Ebola virus to poor sanitation, the FCT Administration through the Board must develop a robust initiative aimed at sensitizing the people especially those at the grass roots, on the need to always keep their surroundings clean.

“In order to uplift the living conditions in Gishiri and others, obviously, urgent attention is needed from all relevant authorities, especially at the local government level and FCT administration, to free the community from its current state of high risks of outbreak of epidemic.

Similarly, one Chika Okoro, blamed the government for making the community inhabitable for the people, resulting in the nonchalant attitude of majority of the inhabitants towards the environmental wellbeing of the community.

He said there are no any designated approved waste central collecting points within the community, to encourage proper waste disposal among residents in the area.

However, one Abu Umaru, stressed the need for the adult members of the community to ensure to take individual and collective steps in protecting their environment from breeding and transmitting diseases easily to them especially children in the area.

Meanwhile, residents of the Territory were awakened early last Friday with phone calls and text messages from loved ones to take an early morning bath with salt water as preventive measure from being infected with Ebola virus.

The source of the preventive measure is linked to an unnamed Church priest who allegedly said the prescription would only be potent if adherent use the potion before dawn.

It was gathered one Naomi Sunday said she was called by her father who lives in Gombe and told her the Spiritual head of their church has ordered that they should all bath with warm water after mixing it salt as well as take drink water mixed with salt before setting out of their home.

“My father said we should make sure we take our bath with warm water mixed with salt. My husband did not want to do it but I quickly prepared his water and mixed the salt in it for him, it was after he had had his bath that I told him.

“He returned to wash himself again, That is after he has already used the water I mixed for him” she told our reporter.

Another resident Marcus Terver, who also used salt solution to take his bath in yesterday morning said “I received a text from my mother that reads: Ebola in Makurdi, boil water put salt drink and wash your body with it now. Take it serious with everybody in your house.”

However, debunking the claim, the Executive Secretary, FCT Primary Health Care Board (PHCB), Dr. Rilwanu Mohammed said the salt solution has no scientific basis and enjoined residents to disabuse their minds of such unscientific prescription.

Mohammed said that residents of the Territory should instead maintain a hygienic lifestyle by keeping their environment clean and regular washing of hands.

“I want to disabuse the minds of Nigerian and especially the FCT residents from the non-evidence based claim of salt solution for early morning bath as preventive measure for the new outbreak.”

It would recalled that since the Ebola,  one of the deadliest viruses on Earth, claimed its first Nigerian victim, a nurse, who among those that treated Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian, who died of the disease in Lagos , last week,  people have resulted to taking extra precautions to avoid falling victims.

According to experts, the dreaded disease with 90% of fatality is highly contagious, as it spreads through contact with bodily fluids like blood, sweat and vomit.

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