Jolted by the death of 700 people from cholera between January and September, the Senate is to organise a public hearing to work out ways to end the menace.
Sen. Gyang Dantong, Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, said in Jos on Monday that the disease was still wreaking havoc in 25 states.
“This (cholera) is a disease that can easily be prevented by maintaining basic hygiene, but it has continued to kill so many people over the years,’’ Dantong said.
He said that the casualty figure had continued to rise, and disclosed that there were “at least 21,000 cases still being treated in various hospitals’’.
Dantong said that the destruction by the tropical disease was a major worry for the senators, and hinted of plans by the law makers to step up enlightenment campaigns to check the scourge.
“Money is not needed to prevent the disease; the Senate will soon organise a public hearing, where stakeholders and other members of the public will work out the quickest way out,’’ he said.
The medical doctor, who represents Plateau North, pointed out that it was not a matter for the Federal Ministry of Health as was being suggested by some groups.
He said, “Cholera is purely a matter for the local government councils; solutions to it could only be found at the grassroots level.
“Our (Senate) plan is to bring in the major players from the local governments and health departments of the states.
“We shall focus on resuscitating the activities of the environmental and sanitary inspectors in the villages. We shall insist that every house must have toilets and other sanitary facilities and recommend severe punishment for defaulters;
“In the past, the disease was fully controlled because such sanitary inspectors were always going around to do their job, but we no longer do that and the very costly consequences are here with us.''
Dantong said that his committee was also worried about the prevalence of sickle cell anaemia, which he said is “very alarming’’, the high number of people affected by the tropical disease.
To contain the disease, he said that the Senate would embark on an advocacy programme, ``just like it is being done for immunisation programmes’’, so as to make the disease a major national concern.
“We need such advocacy to boost public awareness toward preventing the ailment. That awareness will also quicken the treatment of those already affected.
“Part of the advocacy shall involve making medical tests compulsory before people are allowed to marry because caring for victims of sickle cell has continued to eat deeply into government budgets,’’ he said.
He pointed out that it was ``very cheap’’ to prevent the disease, and expressed the Senate’s commitment to eradicate such basic diseases that had continued to claim so many lives.