THE flood that caused havoc across the country has sacked the General Hospital, Patani in Patani Local Government Area of Delta State, forcing officials to stack corpses evacuated from the morgue on an emergency platform that had been inventively constructed between the ceiling and roof of the endangered health institution.
Delta State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Joseph Otumara, confirmed, yesterday, that several other government hospitals were affected by the flood, including the one in Patani, but said he had not received any report concerning the movement of corpses.
However, coordinator of the Rural Health Africa Initiative, RAHI, a non-governmental organization, which is on ground, catering for the victims of the flood in Patani and surrounding communities, Dr. Chris Ekiyor, told Sunday Vanguard, “We saw corpses from the morgue of the Patani hospital affected by the flood floating on the waters, some were standing leg deep in the flood, and others in different awkward position”.
He added, “This was at the initial stage of the flood, but I must commend the mortuary attendant and other officials of the hospital; they understood the effect of the corpses that were washed away by the flood from the morgue, what I saw is not a mortuary, but they were embalming corpses there. They salvaged the corpses from the flood and loaded them up on an over-the –roof platform”.
Ekiyor, who spoke at the RAHI Relief Camp for Flood Victims, situated at New Town, Patani, along the East-West Road, continued: “My concern, among other things, is that there are many shallow graves in this area, and, besides drowned animals like dogs and goats, other dead bodies might have been dug up by the rampaging flood.
“Some of the villagers have not only been fishing in this contaminated body of water, but also cooking with it. It was not until we started educating them on the dangers of what they were doing that they stopped, because they took the floodwater as part of their normal river and were washing with it, fishing inside, bathing and cooking with it”.
“There is a standing instruction in the camps that if anybody coughs and notices blood, he should report to the health officials, but if the person opts to hide it, anybody who observed it should alert the health personnel so that they will handle it.
“We are also conducing general screening and making plans to handle cases of tuberculosis and cholera in the event that there is an outbreak. We have already ordered for cholera vaccines and like I said, basic hygiene is being observed in the 20 camps because we know that is what will solve the problem”
Otumara said that all treatment carried out in the relief camps were free of charge and, since the governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, had set up a Post-Flood Committee, he was sure government would do more and committee would recommend other ways of assisting the Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs.