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UNFPA says pregnant women are at risk of Cholera in Northeast

by Adenike Akindude
UNFPA says pregnant women are at risk of Cholera in Northeast.dailyfamily.ng

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has said that activities of Boko-Haram in Northeastern Nigeria have led to the outbreak of Cholera, posing a grave risk to pregnant women.

According to UNFPA, Boko Haram crisis in the Northeastern states has affected sanitation and health systems and this has led to the displacement of 1.7 million people in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.

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UNFPA further confirmed that many pregnant women lived in camps or host communities.

In August, a cholera outbreak took hold in Borno, further threatening communities already subsumed by the humanitarian crisis.

Dr Homsuk Swomen, a UNFPA reproductive health specialist in Maiduguri said:“The disease, which causes dangerous levels of dehydration, has put women – especially pregnant women – at particular risk.

“Cholera puts an enormous extra stress on the body of the pregnant woman and on the unborn baby.”

He added: “Studies show that cholera infections during pregnancy can lead to sudden loss of the foetus, premature delivery, stillbirth and an increased mortality and morbidity, both for the baby and the mother.”

Dr Swomen said further: “And due to the ongoing conflict, many pregnant women are malnourished, aggravating their vulnerability to cholera and the consequences if they fall sick.”

UNFPA expert on Gender Issues, Sylvia Opinia said: “In all our efforts, we need to understand that cholera is not gender neutral.” She explained that the traditional roles of females give them more exposure to Cholera.

Opinia added: “For example, it is usually women and girls who care for sick family members, clean latrines, fetch and handle untreated water, and prepare food for the family.”

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Dr Mohammed Aminu Ghuluze, the State’s Ministry of Health’s Director of Medical Emergency Response said women and girls may not be fully involved in the awareness-raising activities as they were mostly busy with domestic responsibilities.

He said: “Special efforts need to be undertaken to include them in the information efforts around cholera prevention and response.”

Dr Ghuluze appreciated the efforts of UNFPA and all partners who have been committed to containing the cholera outbreak.

UNFPA said humanitarian partners and the State Ministry of Health were working tirelessly to stop the spread of the disease, and cholera treatment centres were being set up to treat severe cases.

The Population Agency also added that the surveillance team moves from door-to-door to find those in need of treatment. UNFPA is however engaging health workers that will identify and provide adequate care for vulnerable women and girls.

UNFPA is working in conjunction with social workers, health staff and the community in the IDP camps to include women and girls in the education on Cholera with particular emphasis on pregnant women.

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Speaking about funds, Dr Ghuluze said: “But funds are required. The United Nations and its partners have just launched an urgent appeal for $9.9 million to respond to the outbreak and prevent the disease from spreading to other high-risk areas.

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