Lassa fever: Edo govt meets stakeholders in 7 affected LGAs over rising cases

9 Jan 2023

…steps up campaign against disease

The Edo State Government, as part of efforts to curb the spread of Lassa fever and ensure the health and safety of residents across all Edo communities, has met with stakeholders in the seven local government councils most affected by the disease in the state.

Briefing journalists after the meeting in Esan West Local Government Secretariat, the Edo State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Obehi Akoria, said the government has put in place mechanisms to contain the disease and protect citizens.

The local government areas most affected by the disease in the state include Esan West, Etsako West, Esan North East, Esan Central, Etsako Central, Esan South East and Etsako East.

According to her, “The Edo State Government, through the Ministry of Health, is stepping up efforts to contain the spread of Lassa fever in the state and is meeting with relevant stakeholders, including traditional, religious and community leaders, Heads of Local Government Administration (HOLGA), artisans and market leaders as well as different groups and associations in the seven local councils most affected by the disease.

“Also in the meeting were the patent proprietary medicine shop owners, pharmacists, epidemiologists, and representatives of the World Health Organisation (WHO), among other health professionals who are at the forefront of the government’s efforts to contain the disease. We are specifically partnering with the Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria to ensure that patent store owners don’t administer drugs to those who report with the symptoms of Lassa fever but rather refer them to the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH) for testing and treatment.”

Decrying the rise of Lassa fever in the state, Prof. Obehi noted, “Lassa fever has been with us in Edo State for more than 30 years, but we have never seen what we are seeing now. In the past one week alone, we have confirmed 18 cases. This is quite alarming and demands drastic measures. Lassa fever is communicable, unlike hypertension and diabetes as such, if one person has the disease, everybody is at risk. So, this is a state emergency situation, and we must take the bull by the horn to address the challenge.

“The Edo State Public Health Emergency Operation Centre for Lassa fever has been activated since January 5, 2023, even as the government is taking other necessary measures to curb the spread of Lassa fever in our state, including increased surveillance and sensitization campaigns, among others. We are also working closely with health professionals and experts to identify and isolate cases of Lassa fever as quickly as possible and to provide the appropriate treatment and care to those who have been affected.”

She further charged, “We therefore urge all residents to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and their families from Lassa fever. This includes practicing good hygiene, such as washing your hands frequently and avoiding contact with sick individuals, as well as avoiding activities that may put you at risk of exposure to the disease, such as eating bush meat.”