Monthly Archives: February 2014

Yobe School Massacre: We Need More Action not Words!

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I’m a development worker. The organization I work with, known as the Association for Reproductive and Family Health (ARFH) provides support to states to #BeatMalaria, #StopTB and also #StopAIDS. As the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer on the Global Fund Malaria project, I travel to states every quarter to provide supportive supervision and also validate the data they’ve previously submitted. I scheduled to pay this visit from 17th to 20th February, 2014 but this was not to be. The security situation in the northeast part of the country had exacerbated. Reports of killings in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe were coming too often. Health services in the worst hit areas are no more available as health centres have been shut down. And people are dying from preventable/curable health conditions.

In the past 5 months, I’ve travelled to Adamawa State at least twice, in defiance to warnings from some loved ones who were worried about my safety. I interacted with some senior government officials and ordinary people too. Like most Nigerians, they are very hospitable people, peace-loving and going about their daily activities in a diligent manner. Christians and Muslims work harmoniously in same offices. Yusuf, a friend’s sibling whom I was meeting for the first time bought cloth material and made babariga cloth for me free of charge. He also hosted me to a delicious breakfast prepared by his wife. That is the average Adamawa person for you. I’ve neither been to Borno or Yobe States but I doubt if they would be different. The terrorists whom I prefer to call blood-sucking lunatics are enemies to Adamawa people. They are enemies to Borno and Yobe people. They are also enemies to all well-meaning Nigerians.

It is no longer news that the blood-sucking lunatics went to a school, operated for multiple hours and killed tens of harmless and innocent kids. It is appalling that there was no emergency response from security agents in an area under state of emergency. This kind of stuff has happened repeatedly – remember Mubi? The reportedly abducted girls? And a similar incident at a tertiary institution in Yobe last year?

Like most Nigerians, I’m utterly depressed by the situation. We appear to be helpless in situations like this. But I’m also worried and very disappointed that some people politicize unfortunate situations like this. This is not about PDP vs APC, North vs South, Christian vs Muslims or GEJ vs his opponents, it is about the lives of ordinary Nigerians that the system has failed to protect. I salute members of the armed forces and other security agents for their efforts. Many of them have sacrificed their lives in order to protect the rest of us. The federal government has also done some good stuff but is it enough? As long as innocent lives are still being lost in this manner, FG is definitely not doing all it can possibly do. But will blaming each other solve the problem? If it can, Boko Haram would have become history.

A more decisive action is required not blame game. We’ve been garrulous about the challenge of insecurity all these while; it’s now time for more action to protect ourselves. Mr President, Governors and all politicians, please do the needful! Fellow Nigerians, let us unite against the common enemy. This is indeed a very dark moment in our history. May God bless the souls of the victims of the terror attacks and strengthen their loved ones. And may God continue to bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

How to Handle Victims of Fire Disasters

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Written on 14thJanuary, 2013

Beginning from the first day of this year when Ikoku Spare Parts Market in Port Harcourt was razed by fire, hardly has any day gone by without reports of fire incident; the most recent being the fire at Arepo pipeline vandal site in Ogun State. Following the poor or near-absence of ambulance service system, it is pertinent for people to know the first aid to give the victims of fire disasters who sustain burns injury. An urgent transfer to a health facility is the way to go after the first aid is given. I will elucidate some steps relevant actions needed to be taken here.

A burn involves the destruction of skin cells, and sometimes the underlying structures of muscle, fascia and bone. It could be partial thickness when it affects the outermost part of the skin (epidermis) or full thickness when it involves both the entire skin layers plus/minus other structures underlying the skin. Ironically, someone with partial burn would be more restless because it is more painful. The deeper the burn, the less painful it is and the more the likelihood of complications or even death. Another determinant of the severity of burns is the body surface area involved. The more the surface area involved, the more severe the injury. Other causes of burn injury could be electrical or chemical. In either case, the injured person deserves the best possible quality of care.

The safety and first aid tips for fire-related burn injuries are: Stop the burning process if you can, or at least take the injured person(s) out of the harm zone. Expose the body by removing the clothing (cover the private parts if it is not burnt) – clothing may keep in the heat and cause deeper injury. If clothing sticks to the skin, cool the material or cut/tear around the area to preserve good skin tissue. Pour cool water over the burnt area for about 3-5minutes. Never put ice or refrigerated cold water on a burn site. Then remove all jewelries, belts and other wears. Do not apply ointments, squeezed leaves, creams, GV or any substance at all as they may cause infection and worsen the injury. Cover the burn sites with a soft, clean, dry dressing bandage or sheet if available. If not available, leave it exposed rather than using a dirty material that may introduce infections like tetanus. Then cover the victim to keep him or her warm. Don’t give the person food or drink as it may worsen inhalation injury if present. Seek medical care as soon as possible.

From my experience treating people with burns, I observed that relatives of the patients most time underestimate the impact of the injury. Many apply all kinds of substances including egg before coming to the hospital. The most important thing you can do for anyone with open injury is to keep the injured site clean. Most times, it is the infection introduced that delays healing, causes complications, costs more money and may even cost a person’s life. People with deep (full thickness) burn injuries always require lots of intravenous infusion (drip). Some may need blood transfusion or even surgery depending on severity. I must stress that people with burn injury need close monitoring and special care. Many Nigerians believe so much in non-conventional or unorthodox methods of treating their health conditions. They work a few times but in the case of burns, it almost always results in complications some of which may require multiple surgeries or death. In my opinion, I do not think the risk is worth taking.

Treatment of burn injury is usually expensive. I’ve treated someone with burn injury that the cost of materials for initial wound dressing and intravenous infusion was more than N40, 000. Nevertheless, the victims of fire disasters in Nigeria are usually of low socioeconomic class. To save these people from dying, I strongly recommend that government at federal and/or state level create a social insurance scheme to cover all medical emergencies in all health facilities across the county. This would cover not only victims of fire disasters but also road traffic accidents.

Some chronic complications of burns on the skin include de-pigmentation of the skin, abnormal scars including keloids, contractures and chronic ulcers. They are usually prevented by early medical intervention. But rather than treatment, the saying that prevention is better than cure still stands. Prevention of fire disaster or other causes of burn injuries will save the individual, the loved ones and the society at large more troubles. The individual and government have roles to play in this regard and both should endeavor to act accordingly.