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Heat wave: Diseases outbreak looms

By Maria Famakinwa

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A nursing mother, Mrs. Mojisola Omoniyi, rushed her two-year-old baby to the hospital after observing that his temperature kept rising, despite being given the prescribed drugs. The test carried out showed that the baby’s temperature was as a result of the heat wave brought about by the hot weather. The mother of three was happy after her baby was discharged and advised parents to pay more attention to their health and that of their children.

According to Mrs Omoniyi, a lot of children and elderly people were brought to the hospital for the same reason. “Many people are coming down with different ailments because of the harsh weather. I am equally affected because I hardly sleep due to the heat and I keep vigil when my kids cannot sleep. I wonder why we are experiencing this biting heat when we should be talking about harmattan. I pray it starts to rain soon.”

The story is not different from that of Mrs. Anu Ajibode, whose eight-month-old baby has been experiencing sleeplessness due to the intense heat. “My daughter has hardly slept well over the last three weeks. We now keep close watch over her which has taken its toll on my health as well. Since the heat became intense, there has been no night that my husband and I didn’t wake up at least three times to use water and a towel to mop my baby’s body.

“She would cry intensely and refuse to sleep again even if I give her breast to suck. Her entire body has been covered with heat rashes which makes her feel uncomfortable most of the time, especially when it starts to itch her. As a result of this problem, I only wear her pants when we are at home because putting clothes on her would compound the problem. I am really worried, I wish there was something I could do to help her situation, seeing her in pain breaks my heart,” the young mother said, fighting back tears.

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Nigerians are experiencing a ferocious heat wave sweeping across the country that has made smooth night rest almost impossible in many parts of the country in recent weeks, leaving millions of households and individuals highly frustrated in the process. According to medicinenet.com, a health website, heat rash, one of the consequences of such unfriendly weather, occurs when the skin’s sweat glands are blocked and the sweat produced cannot get to the surface of the skin to evaporate. This, according to the website, causes inflammation which results in a rash. It often leads to discomfort and itching and is most common in babies but may affect adults in hot, humid climates as well.

Also, a trader, Mama Oyinyechi, whose skin is being ravaged by heat rashes revealed that she and her family hardly sleep at night due to the heat. She said: “We bathe at least twice at night which disrupts our sleep. “Look at my skin full of heat rashes. The problem is compounded by irregular electricity supply. I have since removed my mosquito nets and sleep unclad but to no avail. My well is also dried up, which makes the situation difficult to manage. I don’t understand how to describe this weather.

“I only sleep when it is around 4 am because by then, the weather will be a bit friendly, yet I must get up by 5.30 am to prepare for the day which means that I have not been having sound sleep. My children are also not feeling well. One of them purged last week before he was given medication. They attributed the cause to the hot weather. Everyone is complaining about the weather, even the fan blows hot when it works for hours. The only thing we can do now is to continue coping by staying hydrated and taking regular showers until it starts to rain which I am sure it will be very soon because it has started raining in some states.”

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The woman added that some of her neighbours now use rechargeable fans but she could not afford them. “Some of my neighbours now turn to rechargeable fans as a temporary solution, but I cannot afford them as I have other pressing needs. Though those who bought rechargeable fans complained of limited working hours, if I have the money I don’t mind, at least preventing the heat. I feel heat always because I am fat. This hot weather is making me sick. I don’t enjoy it at all. The extreme heat is exposing people to all kinds of sickness,” she lamented.

Sharing a similar view, a trader, Mr Ralph Oki, complained that he has been sleeping with his door open over the last two weeks because his health nature cannot withstand heat. “All I do is just lock the net and stay near the entrance so that the breeze can touch me. But this does not mean that I do not pour water on my body at least two times before morning.

“The heat has gotten to a level where many people would start sleeping without putting anything on. When I go outside, I am ashamed to expose my body because of the heat rashes all over me. I have at least two hand fans in my room and I have also bought dustin powder recently just to combat the heat. It is a very serious problem as far as I am concerned. I don’t rub cream on my body anymore because of the heat, except if I have somewhere important to go. All you’ll catch on me is just a towel around my waist or sometimes a pair of shorts for air to touch my body very well. The weather has been very hot and now that there is hardly a power supply or fuel to run the generator, the suffering has increased. Even as an adult, I am feeling the pain.

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“Despite the unbearable heat, many homes cannot pump water because the well is dried, thus contending with how to get water during the day and how to cope with the hot weather at night. To surmount the challenge, individuals and families now adopt different ways to brace for the ‘storm’.

For example, apart from spending so much on purchasing Dustin Powder, and hand fans, a lot of people now sleep in open places overnight like balconies, and verandas, on top of uncompleted buildings, and even passageways in populated compounds. It has been a very frustrating period for many citizens, especially nursing mothers.”

On steps to stay healthy during the heat wave, a medical practitioner, Mr Oladapo Ajayi, observed that the hot weather on many Nigerians has been further compounded by the epileptic power supply and increase in the petrol price which prevent many families from powering their generators. He stressed the need for people to take more water, fruits, vegetables and shower always.”

 The health practitioner advised people to always stay in airy places to prevent diseases associated with heat. “Diseases associated with heat waves can be prevented if people stay under the shade and sleep under the treated net in a well-ventilated room. Staying away from alcoholic beverages, and narcotics and taking a lot of water. Stay in a well-ventilated room and try to keep your water filler/bottle close at all times so that you are always hydrated,” he advised.

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