BY MARY OMOKHAGBOR
Aside the ugly and scary look, there is actually more to this particular health condition than meets the eye. It is a health hazard that has thrived more on ignorance than anything else, in Afemai land, a sprawling community in the north side of Edo State.
In a way, it is a sickness with more negative impacts than the people tend to understand, as a result, you see many of them already afflicted, yet carrying on with life as if all is normal.
It is goitre and Dr Emmy Momoh, on a live programme “Chat with the Doctor” she hosted on Afemai Sons and Daughters Facebook group on November, 2020, also bemoaned the high rate of women living with it in Igarra land.
By the way, Afemai consists of six local governments thus: Etsako Central, Etsako East, Etsako West, Owan East, Owan West And Akoko Edo, but it is rather unfortunate that this disease, though afflicting people in these areas, has become commonplace in Igarra, Akoko Edo Local Government Area.
Goitre, is a swelling of thyroid gland that causes lump in the front of the neck. The condition is caused by iodine deficiency i.e. an insufficient amount of iodine in the body. Although, it is not always harmful in the early stage of the disease, but the case is different when it grows bigger. It could block the esophagus, and led to difficulty in breathing and change in voice box.
It is however ironic, the way this condition has thrived on Nigerian soil the way it has in Afemai. This is in the sense that as far back as April 2007, the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) had ranked Nigeria as the first African country to be recognised for achieving universal iodisation.
That ranking was credited to the Global Network for Sustained Elimination of iodine deficiency at the occasion of an international forum held in Turkey.
To some Nigerians, the achievement has become a sort of a fluke, in that women with the swell on their neck regions, is still a common sight here.
Elizabeth Odion Olorunda, a resident in Igarra who spoke with our reporter on the matter, also confirmed prevalence of old and new cases of goitre in the land and how the people have been struggling to live with it
Even without a research, you could notice that goitre is indeed quite wide-spread, as almost 3 in 10 women you come across, tend to exhibit the condition.
The Eagle investigations shows that a factor for the high incidence of goiter in Igarra is the large intake of rock salt which is believed to lack iodine necessary for body metabolism as proven by scientists.
Iodine is a mineral found in some foods like salt. The body needs iodine to make the thyroid hormones. These hormones control the body’s metabolism and many other important functions in the body like liver, brain, kidney, bone and even for the development during pregnancy and infancy.
As endemic as this goitre problem, one wonders why it should be this prevalent in this time and hour, when governments at different levels have healthcare budgets running into several millions of naira.
This, in addition to basic journalistic etiquettes were at the back of the mind of this reporter, to seek to do something about Afemai women and this chocking entanglement with goiter.
A simple indication of this interest on one’s bio led to concerns pouring from different quarters,
The management of Afemai Sons and Daughters ( ASD), a facebook group led by Victor Inobemhe has equally shown concern, and in fact, willingness in sensitising the people.
This write up is therefore is a first step to mobilising support against this debilitating condition, goitre, the next being a physical visit to Afemai land, in the next few days.
The mission: to map out the area in terms of the prevalence of goiter, as a major step to seeking medical intervention.
It is obviously a mission to save lives, to lighten the burden of carriers, and save other young women from being afflicted by goiter.
it is one mission for which support from far and near would be needed. Great kudos to our group members whose early response has remained a great source of encouragement to this course, Together really, we will make an impact.
Call these numbers if interested in playing a part or further clarifications: 090673634 or 08180335778
-Picture credits: SlideShare, www.shutterstock.com