Queens College’s students are down with sickness, but authorities hide their condition

STUDENTS of the Queens College, Lagos, a federal government-owned school, are down with illness again, but the school authorities are doing everything to hide their condition from the public.

Parents said their wards are coming down with illnesses with same symptoms shortly after the resumption.

Queens College was also hit by an outbreak of bacterial infections in 2017 that led to the death of three students, while hundreds of other students were treated for diseases including typhoid and diarrhoea due to poor hygiene and lack of potable water.

The Chairman of the Parents and Teachers Association (PTA) of the school, John Oforbike, who spoke to The ICIR about the ongoing situation noted that many students were coming down with illnesses and hundreds of them have taken away by parents in three weeks of resumption.

“The environment is unkempt. Mosquitoes breed everywhere,” said Oforbike.

The school which resumed academic activities on September 15 was said to be admitting many students in the sickbay, while some parents were requested to pick up their wards.

Airborne diseases affect students — Principal, LASG

According to Oforbike, after complaints were taken to the school principal, Yakubu Olaloye, she said the situation was caused by the weather condition.

“She told me that one Dr Ojo has come to check on the children. And said there was nothing like epidemics,” the PTA chairman recalled his conversation with the school principal while speaking to The ICIR.

“It is an airborne disease affecting the children, not an epidemic. And the thing is, the children just came back from home, while some of them were beaten by rain on that day,” he quoted Olaloye as saying.

Oforbike said he visited the school, together with other executives of the PTA on Sunday to keep abreast of the situation. He recounted how he met a multitude of students at the sickbay with many trooping in, while some sat on the bench because the beds were filled up.

The students, he said, had complained to be suffering from catarrh, cough, headache, body pain, and sore throat.

“About 20 parents came to the sickbay to take their children while I was there,” Oforbike recalled. “I asked the nurse how many students have taken exeat due to their health condition. She said 700.”

But the nurse denied access to the record of students who have already taken exeats, he told The ICIR.

Describing the situation as “a problem” because of the large number of people affected, he said some parents who had been affected were treating their daughters of bacterial infections while others treated for malaria.

“Actually water has been a problem in that college,” he said.

“The issue that happened in 2017 was tied to water. It was their inefficiency and they could not provide social amenities. And so much money was released to build a new hostel, to have two or three industrial boreholes. But I still want to tell you that water is still a very big problem in school now.

“And the toilet is always messed up,” Oforbike added.

Similarly, a mother of two girls at the school (one in J.S.S three and another in S.S.S three) who requested that her name should not be disclosed in the report said her children regularly complained of the poor condition of the toilets, claiming they were “disgusting”.

“The toilet itself is horrible,” she said.

Her children, the mother said, had also confirmed that some of their mates were unusually going home in a short period.

She narrated how the students talked about the different kinds of water made available in the school, which they named “Fanta water, Coke water and Sprite water.” She explained that the orange-coloured water is used for bathing, cooking, and brushing of teeth.

“And that is why some are treating infections. The water is not good,” she said.

A screenshot of the Whatsapp message sent to the Principal of the Queens Collge that was left unreplied.

The ICIR placed calls to the principal of the school to know the school’s stand on the reported cases. Those calls were, however, not acknowledged.

An SMS sent to her was not replied. Similarly, WhatsApp messages sent on Monday did not get any response.

Professor Akin Abayomi,  Lagos State Commissioner for Health, on Tuesday, however, said a team comprising officials of the state epidemiology team, primary healthcare services and environmental health department of Lagos Mainland Local Government dispatched to unravel the cause of the pupils’ illnesses noted that 89 students were affected with airborne diseases within three weeks of resumption.

While reviewing preliminary reports of the investigations conducted by the team, he explained they identified “a sporadic increase in upper respiratory tract infection”.

“Findings, according to the review of health records in the school’s sickbay, revealed that 89 students presented to the clinic with influenza-like illnesses.”

According to the World Health Organisation, seasonal influenza is characterised by a sudden onset of fever, cough (usually dry), headache, muscle and joint pain, severe malaise (feeling unwell), sore throat and a runny nose. While some people recover from fever and other symptoms within a week without requiring medical attention, WHO said it could cause severe illness or death especially in people at high risk.

The commissioner added that an inspection of other facilities in the school revealed that environmental sanitation and water supply were optimal, but could be improved on.

He added that the “excess number of cases needed to be investigated.”

‘Contaminated water, unhygienic toilets could lead to diseases’ 

Laz Ude Eze, a public health physician and Executive Director of Pink Oak Cancer Trust, said that contaminated water could lead to water-borne diseases including typhoid fever, diarrhoea, cholera and worm infestation.

“If 60 persons should take some contaminated water, they are all bound to be infected due to bacteria and worm it contained,” Laz cited an instance on the impact of the use of contaminated water.

He also added that dirty toilets could cause urinary tract infections and genital tract infections. Laz noted that these infections are common in females than in males.






     

     

    Samuel Oyejide,  a doctor of therapeutist in Ukraine agrees.

    “They are prone to come down with bacterial infections through water,” he said. Samuel added it could also cause hepatitis A and E, while poor sanitation could breed mosquitoes, which in turns, resulting in malaria when an individual is bitten by female anopheles type of mosquitoes.

    Checking through the federal ministry of education budget allocation between 2015 and 2019, a total of N328 million was the total capital fund allocated to the school. This does not include the 2017 budget allocation where the capital allocation was not specified. The school had received the highest capital allocation in 2018 where N126 million was budgeted. 

    Meanwhile, no money was recorded to be disbursed to Queens College under the capital releases between 2015 and 2018.

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