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Rivers State Government denies cholera outbreak

The Rivers State Government has dismissed reports of an outbreak of cholera in Soku, a community in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of the state.

The Commissioner for Health, Dr Adaeze Oreh, while reacting to the reports making the rounds on Monday, said public health teams sent to investigate the outbreak and alleged cases of deaths confirmed that there is neither an outbreak, nor deaths as a result of cholera in Soku community.

Dr Oreh stated that the ongoing medical outreach by the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, in Soku community is in no way related to any outbreak of cholera.

The NDDC had claimed it commenced medical intervention in Soku community, following a reported cholera outbreak.

In her reaction, the Commissioner for Health noted that all health outreaches must be conducted with approval of and in collaboration with the State Ministry of Health, and as such, no entity should be conducting outreaches outside the coordination of the ministry.

She said: “The Rivers State Ministry of Health has received numerous inquiries from the press regarding an alleged outbreak of cholera in Soku community in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area.

“Public Health teams dispatched to investigate these alleged cases and deaths have so far received no confirmation of such.

“The ongoing outreach in Soku community is in no way related to any outbreak of cholera.

“Outreaches have always been a way of getting accessible health care services to underserved and vulnerable populations.

“However, all such outreach activities in the state must be conducted with approval from and in collaboration with the state Ministry of Health.

“And as such, no entity should be conducting health outreaches outside the coordination of the ministry.”

Doctor Oreh further called on the general public to disregard the rumors of the outbreak of cholera and the death of some persons in Soku community, noting that the information is unfounded and capable of causing panic amongst citizens and residents.

“All infectious diseases of this nature are to be reported, managed, and escalated by the Rivers State Ministry of Health.

“This statement should, therefore, serve as a strong warning to anyone planning or conducting health activities without due recourse to the Rivers State Ministry of Health.

“Any such activities found to be carried out without the knowledge and clearance of the state Ministry of Health will be fully investigated and dealt with to ensure the protection of the lives of Rivers people.

“The general public is thus urged to remain calm and rest assured that the Rivers State Ministry of Health will continue to be a veritable source of all public health information in the state, ” she stated.

However, a former Community Development Committee chairman of Soku community in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State, Young Arney, insisted that there was indeed, a cholera outbreak in the community at the end of January and beginning of February 2024 which led to the deaths of five persons.

Arney, in an interview with DAILY POST, said cholera outbreak is a recurrent bacterial disease that affect the people of Soku because of a lack of access to potable water in the area.

The former CDC chairman said the community’s first response was to reach out to NDDC, and not the state or local governments because of previous experiences of neglect from both levels of government.

Arney said: “Towards the end of January and early February, we recorded this outbreak and some few persons died, five or so.

“You know Soku is made up of the main town and satellite communities.

“It was in the satellite communities that it started. It later affected the main town. One person died in the main town, four died in the satellite communities.

“We reported the matter to NDDC. It was NDDC that just sent medical teams to the community yesterday and today.

“Previous experiences, when such a thing happens, when we call on local and state governments, they don’t easily respond.”

Arney further told DAILY POST that Soku community has had no functional health facility for over 10 years.

“We have one cottage hospital, but it has been down for the past 15 years. It has not been functioning. There is no health facility here.

“Sometimes they bring nurses around to come and examine the people, give them some treatment and they go.

“After this period, we will report this matter to the LGA and the state, to facilitate the project that is already ongoing.

“Already, Shell SPDC has renovated the cottage hospital, it’s left for them to commission. The cottage hospital was built in 1991 and commissioned in 1995,” he said.(SPDC)

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