The Federal Government is planning to carry out a health audit of the Ogoni people in Rivers, to ascertain the effect of prolonged exposure to hydrocarbons on them. Dr Ferdinand Giadom, the Project Coordinator, Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Bori, Rivers.
He said that HYPREP, under the Federal Ministry of Environment, was desirous to carry out the medical audit in compliance with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Report on Ogoniland.
According to him, the audit was a standard practice considering that wherever there was oil spillage, chronic diseases are usually detected among residents exposed to prolonged hydrocarbons.
“So, UNEP recommended that HYPREP carries out public health studies which will go into public health registries so that we can understand the trend of prevalent diseases in Ogoni communities.
“Anywhere there is an oil spill in the world; there are certain debilitating conditions or diseases that are associated with chronic, prolonged exposure to petroleum hydrocarbons.
“The diseases present themselves in a wide spectrum from low-end impacts to high-end impacts,” he said.
Giadom, who is an environmental geologist, said people who were exposed to ‘low-end’ hydrocarbon usually suffered anger issues, hormonal imbalance and miscarriage during pregnancy.
“The high-end impact results in diseases like cancer.
“To this end, HYPREP has also moved to begin the process of entering into our communities to interact with the people and take data.
“Information will also be gathered on the kind of disease conditions that are prevalent in our communities so that we will find lasting solutions to these issues.
“So, in the coming days’ people will come to the communities to seek the medical condition of the people,” he advised.
The project coordinator said the health professionals were engaged from research institutes from Nigeria and foreign countries as well as indigent Ogoni medical doctors.
He urged the Ogoni people to provide accurate information to health professionals, to enable them to make informed decisions.
Giadom also announced plans to upgrade hospitals and medical centres in the four local government areas that make up Ogoniland, including Eleme, Gokana, Khana and Tai, to improve healthcare in the areas.
“Aside from rehabilitation, we shall also build some medical facilities.
“Presently, we are in the process of acquiring land to start building a hospital in Tai Local Government Area,” he added.
He further announced that HYPREP would in the next one month commence the remediation of complex crude oil spillage sites, adding that characterisation had already begun.