Nigeria accounts for 10 per cent of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the world and as such tackling their health challenges requires a multi sartorial and multidisciplinary approach, the Federal Government has been told.
Professor Adebayo Onajole gave the charge at the scientific session of the 11th National Scientific Conference and All fellows Congress in an overview of the health challenges of IDPs.
Onajole, a community health expert at the University of Lagos, said IDPs were vulnerable to many challenges because they were in transit, may have experienced profound psychological distress and lost their source of livelihood.
According to him, “as a result of conflict and displacement, there is abundance of food insecurity, lack of access to basic services and so on. They are also exposed to mental illnesses and psychological problems.”
Being faced with hunger and poverty, he said malnutrition and other health conditions such as measles, skin infections and Tuberculosis which they were exposed to need to be looked at.
Although malnutrition is not limited to children but also adults in IDP camps, he said often times, ill equipped and unhygienic condition of camps tend to exacerbate other health challenges in these individuals.
While long term problems of IDPs include disabilities, mental health problems, non-communicable diseases and sexually transmitted infections, he declared “the urgent health issues that need to be tackled require the establishment of primary care and emergency services, identify chronic medical conditions and provide alternatives treatment for them.
“Epidemics both in nutrition and disease conditions are major problems, so the challenge is to get adequate data to do what is called health risk assessment.
“There must be conscious effort to ensure adequate input and political will to address the issues; plan to resettle IDPs back to their communities or reintegrate them into the host community where feasible.”