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Lassa fever: Edo govt strengthens surveillance, contact tracing in Etsako West, Esan West, Esan North East

15 Feb 2023


…visits local councils with NCDC, WHO, and others

Edo State Government in strengthening surveillance, contact tracing and other activities to contain the Lassa fever outbreak in the state, took the campaign against the spread of the disease to the three high-burden local government councils in the state, including Etsako West, Esan West, and Esan North East.

These three local government councils with 72, 41, and 35 cases, respectively, account for over 83 percent of the 176 confirmed cases in the state.

The Edo State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Obehi Akoria, led a team from the Ministry of Health, the World Health Organisation (WHO), and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to visit the respective local government council leaderships. The team also visited the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH) to bolster the government’s efforts to efficiently and effectively respond to the disease.

The Commissioner for Local Government, Community and Chieftaincy Affairs, Hon. Monday Osaigbovo, along with the Heads of Local Government Administration (HOLGA) in the three local government areas, pledged their continued support to curb the spread of Lassa fever in the state.

Addressing journalists in Benin City, the Commissioner for Health noted, “I would like to reassure the public that ongoing efforts to combat Lassa fever remain steadfast and unwavering. We are strengthening our response, and we are happy that the local government health authorities and affected communities have taken ownership of the response and are driving it.

“We understand the grave threats that Lassa fever poses to the health and well-being of our citizens, and we are working doggedly to implement the most effective strategies for prevention, early diagnosis, treatment, epidemiological tracking, and mapping, to contain and ultimately eliminate the disease.”

She continued: “We met with the Heads of Local Government Administration and members of the Lassa Fever taskforces in the three high-burden LGAs to review the impact of the various interventions, identify gaps and further strengthen mechanisms to contain the disease.

“Thankfully, we have recorded a decline in the number of new confirmed cases in the last 2 weeks, and we hope that the reduction will be sustained.

“It was heartwarming to find that Esan West LGA had put taskforces in place in the 10 wards, headed by the Special Assistants to the government, which are replicating the governance and other measures that are ongoing in the State and LGAs. Other LGAs have promised to put similar structures in place.”

Prof. Akoria added, “Ours is a One Health response that includes stakeholders from the Ministries of Local Government, Community and Chieftaincy Affairs, Agriculture, Environment, Science & Technology; WHO, NCDC, traditional and religious institutions, ISTH, UBTH, and other partners.

“We cannot over-emphasise the importance of all residents taking personal responsibility to protect themselves: regularly wash your hands with soap and running water; don't touch or eat rats; eliminate rats and environments/practices that encourage their breeding or contamination of food and drinks; dispose of waste in covered containers that rats cannot access.”

“We urge residents in Edo State to desist from dangerous self-medication and to seek expert healthcare for any illness lasting more than 2 days, from appropriate healthcare facilities.”

Noting that most of the deaths that have occurred in the State were due to delays in seeking appropriate healthcare, the health commissioner urged residents to call the following numbers to seek advice on these and other healthcare issues: the Commissioner, 09016350001; Director of Public Health, 08065525595; State Epidemiologist, 08064258163 and the State Disease Surveillance and Notification Officer on 08060593802.

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