By Tata Mbunwe
The Governor of the South West region, Bernard Okalia Bilai, has ordered local authorities in Fako division to construct new toilets while the Cameroon Development Corporation, CDC, has offered 20 beds to contain the new wave of cholera in the region.
During a crisis meeting in Buea Wednesday March 23, chaired by Governor Okalia Bilai with health and administrative authorities in the region, the outbreak was blamed on water insufficiency and open defecation.
” The instruction I am giving to the local authorities, the Mayor and the SDOs, is to undertake a programme of construction of toilets here in less than 30 days,” said the Governor.
The crisis meeting became inevitable after close to 40 cholera cases and 4 deaths were recorded within the past 72 hours in the towns of Tiko, Limbe and Buea.
In Limbe, where hospitals over 600 cholera cases have been registered this year, hospitals are already overwhelmed. Cholera patients and many others have resorted to taking treatment on hospital verandas due to lack of space.
At the crisis meeting on Wednesday, the General Manager of Cameroon Development Corporation, CDC, Frankline Ngone Njie, said the corporation was offering 20 beds for patients who were taking treatment on the floor.
“We have committed ourselves to providing 20 cholera beds latest Friday and also committed ourselves to provide some funds,” Ngone Njie told journalists.
Authorities also resolved to intensify sensitization campaigns against cholera with people told to especially wash their hands before and after meals and after using the toilet; wash hands before touching food; before breastfeeding and after touching dirt.
People have also been instructed to close all doubtful water sources especially from wells while the Cameroon Water Utilities Company, CAMWATER, will start distributing potable water to households in the days ahead.
While water remains a vector of cholera transmission and prevention at the same time, the government has been blamed for not taking proactive measures to stop such water borne diseases.
Water sources, even in towns like Buea, Limbe and Kumba remain unchecked as inhabitants desperately search for water due to water insufficiency.
The building of pit toilets in neighbourhoods in Buea such as Bolifamba and Muea has also not been well supervised and local authorities in Bolifamba blame corruption for the neglect.
They say municipal sanitation officials often get bribed when they come around to check toilets and water sources.
The result has been the current cholera epidemic which has torched eight health districts in the Southwest region, including Buea, Limbe, Tiko, Kumba North, Kumba South, Mbonge, Ekondo-Titi and Bakassi.
With close to 2,000 cases recorded in the region, Limbe has the highest record with 680 cases as of Tuesday, March 22.