By Sadeeq Sheshe
Kano is located in the Northwestern part of Nigeria. Although Kano is in the Sahel, it has continued to approach the Sudan.
With the massive population explosion from the last 10 years, the Kano population is estimated to be approaching 20-22 million. Surprisingly, one might think successive Governments in Kano would be on their toes considering the direct variation with population increase and availability of resources. Health sector is one in which resources have continued to be inadequate to cater to the continuous population increase in Kano.
For almost 5 years in succession now, every year from around May towards November, there is an explosion of occurrence of malaria in Kano. Although no tentative data is accurately saved by health authorities in the state, one can clearly see how people have filled up public and private hospitals in the state. In fact, because of the congestion in hospitals, a lot of people are opting for local pharmacies and community clinics for first stage treatment.
With this rapid surge in these cases, minds of people should generate concerns. It has been randomly observed that the numbers keep on increasing over the years.
Malaria is a disease caused by infection of a plasmodium which is carried by mosquitoes. It is such a deadly disease that can easily kill even an adult individual instantly. According to WHO, malaria in Africa accounts for 94% of the world’s 229 million cases as of 2019. In that same year, 23% of mortality caused by Malaria is in Nigeria, which is the highest globally. Within Nigeria, unpublished data showed Kano state as one of the leading states with highest rates of malaria cases and consequently death. Similar, a record figure of as far back as 2016 showed a whopping 32% cases of malaria in Nigeria are in Kano state.
Control of malaria solemnly relies on the control of the activities of mosquitoes. In places where malaria has been eradicated, much emphasis is on the mosquitoes.
In Kano, our activities over these years have nothing but contributing to increasing widespread and thriving of mosquitoes. With continuous improper buildings and destruction of drainages, the perfect environment is rather made for mosquito breeding. As studied, mosquitoes live and thrive in watery areas lacking proper sanitation.
Going around Kano, one can clearly see Kano lacking drainage systems. In addition, the few available ones are continuously destructed by waves of buildings including filling stations, shops, and plazas as well as unorganized residential buildings.
Also, road, underpass, and flyover constructions without proper and connected drainage systems have all added to the disaster.
Another activity, very rampant in Kano, contributing to the thriving of mosquitoes is the improper refuse and sewage disposing systems, particularly during these raining seasons. A simple trip round the metropolis is enough to confirm this.
We may also not neglect the fact that the usual spraying of insecticides during monthly sanitation days have been also absent. In addition to non-existence of government funded scientific researches targeting mosquitoes and the Plasmodium to improve ways of tackling malaria.
It cannot be a one sided blame. Our collective negligence from government agents, health authorities, as well as the citizens, have all contributed to this malaria menace.
However, most problems have been aggravated by governments’ “I don’t care” attitude. Currently, rampage and anyhow building of shops, malls and plazas is a major blow. Most of the places where such buildings are being constructed are inappropriate for such. In addition, individuals doing such constructions have not planned to construct drainage systems.
Citizens are the ones given these land allocations to construct shops and plazas. At the end of the said constructions, one might end up destroying the few available drainaging system, further making things worst.
Health authorities also have been mostly negligent in their duties. Lack of proper sanitation exercises, lack of availability of data and figures as well as absent of sensitization are some of the problems contributed by health authorities.
There is a need for all the tree stakeholders to wake up to their responsibilities and roles.
Government should set up laws and regulations that would bring an end to these improper constructions. It should also categorically stop further approvals of shop buildings at inappropriate locations. Similarly, government should set up monitoring teams going round the state enforcing people to clear inappropriate refuse and dumps. The monthly sanitation should be betterly and rigorously improved. In essence, the yester years “malaman tsafta “should be brought back. These agents would go in to the corners of the state to enforce health regulations. Governments should also set up research centers with the aim of doing scientific researches to provide improved solutions. Studies on anti-malarial drug resistance, anti-insecticide resistance for example should be researched and recommendations made.
Health authorities should also have to wake up to their responsibilities. A database and figures for malaria occurrence and prevalence monthly should be created and updated. This will give Governments and other contributing stakeholders the chance of seeing what is being faced. In addition, the ministry of health should make the township insecticide spray a robust process during station days. They should also collaborate with those mentioned research centers and hospitals regarding key treatment and measures to be taken, for example; which proper insecticide is to be used. Also, more sensitization and public awareness should be done as seen during the COVID-19 situation.
Lastly, citizens should wake up and be responsible to their roles. Supporting government programs and policies as well as ensuring proper disposal should be considered. Waking of the public and citizens is prime as members of the public are the major beneficiaries of either a good healthy environment or otherwise.
Sadeeqsheshe writes from Kano, can be reached via email@example.com