The Nigeria Medical Association has registered its dismay over what it described as inadequate response by the Federal Government to the rise in the number of Lassa fever cases and deaths in the last few weeks.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, in its latest report, said that 14 people died of Lassa fever between January 28 and February 3, 2019 in Edo, Ondo, Rivers, Plateau, Oyo, Ebonyi, Enugu, Taraba and Nasarawa states. A previous report by the agency also claimed that 77 new cases were confirmed in 13 states and Federal Capital Territory, with 11 of the infected people dead.
While reacting to the prevalence of the disease, NMA President, Dr Adedayo Faduyile, told our correspondent in an exclusive interview that the association had in December 2018 expressed concern over the spread of the disease, but the FG had failed to respond to the health challenge with the attention required to stop it.
He said that public awareness of Lassa fever was poor and there were remote communities where cases and deaths were not reported.
He said, “In a communiqué that we released after our annual general meeting held in December 2018, we alerted the nation to the rampaging disease and called on the Federal Government to increase surveillance and sensitise the people so as to curtail its spread.
“In January 2019, I cried out that there was an urgent need for information and a need to raise awareness of the disease. But it seems that everyone is not looking that way. We have yet to see any major move by the FG to curb the disease. We need to do a lot of information dissemination. From the report we have gathered, there are many places where the disease is prevalent with no one reporting it.”
Efforts made by our correspondent to get the reaction of the Director, Public Health Department, Federal Ministry of Health, Mrs Evelyn Ngige, was not successful.
However, the Incident Manager, National Emergency Operation Centre, Ms Chioma Dan-Nwafor, told our correspondent that the FG had established treatment centres in the states where the disease was prevalent and across the country, noting that many of those affected were on 21 day surveillance.
She said, “We have treatment centres across the country and all cases are referred to the centres for management. The health workers at the centres are supported with personal protective equipment. Also we have deployed rapid response to states with high record of cases, such as Edo, Ondo, Ebonyi, Bauchi and Plateau states.
“It is a multi-sectoral approach; we have the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture being part of the team. The two ministries are important in terms of control measure and environmental sanitation. They strengthen team activities down to the grassroots. We have given case management guidelines to all treatment centres. We follow confirmed cases for 21 days and isolate them if necessary.”
Dan-Nwafor said the FG had made efforts to sensitise various communities across the country and advised that any case of protracted malaria case should be treated with suspicion.
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