Aguwan dodo Zabar-Mawa is a farming community in Kalgo Local Government Area of Kebbi State. Though the village is surrounded by water, it lacks pipe-borne water, a situation which is sending the villagers to early graves. The people of that community are currently battling with gastroenteritis.
It all started when the chief imam of the area, Mohammed Ahmed, 55, performed a spiritual bath on the corpse of one Umar Maikati, who reportedly died after contacting gastroenteritis.
"I was hale and hearty when they called me as the chief imam of our community to perform spiritual bath for the body of Umar in line with Islamic injunction. As it is our tradition, I performed the ritual, and we took his corpse to the burial ground. Two days later, I started vomiting and stooling excessively. I was rushed to the Hospital. After that, all members of my family numbering eight, became infected. Along the line, two of my children lost their lives to the disease, five others were treated and discharged from the isolated camp, but one is still there. I am praying for his quick recovery. Though I have stopped vomiting and stooling, I am still very weak. We do not how Umar got it, but what I did was our tradition here. Whenever somebody dies, it is my duty to bath his corpse in accordance with the teachings of Islam," the chief imam says.
"From last week Monday when the outbreak was first reported, over 60 persons contacted the disease and eight of them have died. The disease also killed the wife of an Abuja based construction worker, Abdullahi Aliyu, 47. He said he was in Abuja when a relative called to inform him of the death of his wife, Jumai Abdullahi, 33, days after she contacted the disease," he adds.
"My wife left behind our eight children including a year-old twins she was breast feeding. As I'm lamenting about the death of my wife, I'm praying for my two children who are still at the isolated camp. They contacted this disease that killed their mother last Tuesday," the Abuja based worker said.
Officials of a foreign based non-governmental organisation, Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF), were seen attending to patients of the camp where victims were isolated .
A female official was sighted attending to a woman who delivered a baby at the camp on Monday. This woman was brought here because she contacted gastroenteritis, but days later, she delivered a baby. The worry now is that she is not eating and the baby needs breast milk to survive.
The leader of the community, Saidu Hakimi, who is 80 years-old, said only God knows the number of people infected by the disease.
"Many of my people have died as a result of this disease, including my son. This is the first time we are experiencing this sort of thing. They said it was as a result of contaminated water. Yes, it may be, because we don't have water here in this village. We go to other villages to get drinking water," he said, urging the state government to come to their rescue.
When contacted, the Permanent Secretary in the state's Ministry of Health, Dr. Muhammad Sani Ka'oje, confirmed the number of casualties recorded as a result of the outbreak of the disease, but added that the situation is now under control.
"Yes, there was an outbreak of gastroenteritis, but we thank Allah that the whole thing is scaling down. When it started last week, a total of 60 persons were infected and eight persons lost their lives as a result of the communicable disease. The disease was as a result of poor sanitation. The villagers has problem of drinking water because their borehole developed problem. They were drinking water from a contaminated well which became the main source of water to them. This has been taken care of as their source water has been fixed. Many of the victims isolated at the camp have been discharged," he said.
He urged the people of the area to desist from drinking unclean water, keep their environments clean, and that they should quickly take anyone found vomiting or stooling to the nearest medical centre.
The Director, Primary Health Care unit of Kalgo Local Government Area, Alhaji Abdullahi Musa Kashizama, on his part faulted a report that the people of the community were dying as a result of outbreak of cholera. He maintained that medical examination of the victims showed that they were suffering from Gastro enteritis.
"This is not the first time that we are having the outbreak of this disease. The first time was in January and February this year, many were infected, but no life was lost. But this time around, we recorded loss of lives. The isolation of victims of the disease has helped us a lot in taming the spread," he said.
Meanwhile, members of the affected area are calling on both the local and state government to find a lasting solution to the problem of pipe-borne water bedevilling them. They also commended the state governor, Alhaji Saidu Usman Dakingari, for the construction of the main road linking them to Birnin Kebbi, the state capital.