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Expert View: The inherent health implications of Gammalin 20 on Nigerian rivers

Adani as a case study

The practice of applying gammalin in rivers for easy catch of aquatic animals is a very dreaded practice with numerous health challenges which should be discouraged amongst riverine communities. This archaic and barbaric system is not just dangerous to humans, but also poses a great danger to aquatic animals and the ecosystem.

I was invited by a friend to Adani, an outskirt community in Enugu State for the obsequies of his late mother. The invitation coincided with their fishing expedition.

Adani, is blessed with a big river called Obina. Every two years or so, they indulge in a kind of fishing expedition which involves the application of gammalin 20 in the river so that all kinds of aquatic animals will die and float for easy retrieval.

According to Mike who is an indigene of the community, the activity has been in practice from time immemorial especially in the dry season when the river would be shallow because it is the easiest and less time-consuming means of having a good catch both for consumption and for commercial purposes.

“Using gammalin to kill fishes in our river has been long it started. We do it every two years especially in dry seasons when the river will not be deep. After putting the chemical, we always catch plenty fish both to sell and to eat”, he said.

However, he posited further that, though the practice is quite rewarding, it is fraught with numerous health risks.

“This thing we do helps us very much, but at times it is bad to the body. If the poison enters all part of the fish it might kill any person who will eat it. That is why immediately we catch anyone, we will kill it and remove the intestine and throw away” he said.

In corroboration of what Mike told me, barely a day after the application of the chemical, news reached me that someone had been admitted at Our Lady Health of the Sick Maternity Hospital, Adani, a mission hospital for consuming a fish killed by the chemical. According to the report, the patient after eating the fish started complaining of stomach pains and was immediately rushed to the hospital.

The health jeopardy inherent in the practice aside, it is said that fishes killed in such way are tasteless.

Dr Frank who is a popular Pharmacist in the community, explained the wastefulness and worthlessness of the practice as there is nothing good in it. He said that fishes are tasteless, dangerous and decay within minutes after catching them.

“You see, one thing I hate about this method is that, it is bad to the health. The fishes when eaten are tasteless and if you allow the fish to stay unattended to for some minutes after catching them, they will start melting like a heated rubber”.

Apart from the health risk pinned in consuming affected aquatic animals, there so many other disastrous aftermath of applying gammalin on rivers. This is because as we know, the chemical is a poisonous insecticide.

Among the side effects of this chemical is dizziness, vomiting, blur vision and so many illnesses. These problems spring up among locals at the downstream end of the effected river because the substance tend to remain in the river for about a week or more.

Dead fishes which were missed during the catch and other dead aquatic foods decay, thereby polluting the air and distorting the taste of the affected water.

This practice whose benefit is far below its demerits should be checkmated and stopped. To me, there are no much benefits since the fish and water can cause harm to consumers.

This is an exposition aimed at the state government and other stakeholders in the affected area to take a swift action to forestall further reoccurrence of this ecological, health and environmental pollution before the consequences result to the outbreak of neo viruses.

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