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Taking fight against Lassa fever to next level

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Taking fight against Lassa fever to next level

By Emmanuel Afonne, Nigeria News Agency .

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has adopted public enlightenment and awareness creation strategy and timely intervention to check the alarming rate of Lassa fever outbreak in the country.

Statistics released by the NCDC, showed that between January and July 2019, Lassa fever claimed about 139 lives, with 615 confirmed cases, 17 probable and 2,327 negative in 22 states.

The figure represents 22.6 per cent fatality ratio in confirmed cases, while the predominant age-group affected is 21-40 years.

The states are: Edo, Ondo, Bauchi, Nasarawa, Ebonyi, Plateau, Taraba, FCT, Adamawa, Gombe, Kaduna, Kwara, Benue, Rivers, Kogi, Enugu, Imo, Delta, Oyo, Kebbi, Cross River and Zamfara.

Out of the 22 states, six shared 93 per cent of the infection burden: They are Edo (36%), Ondo (29%), Ebonyi (8%), Bauchi (7%), Taraba (7%) and Plateau (6%).

 

Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, the Director General of NCDC, said the organisation was working towards establishing treatment centres in the 36 states of the federation, including the FCT.

He said that the centre would ensure quick response to infectious diseases in the country.

Ihekweazu explained that the treatment and isolation centres would be established in collaboration with state governments, where such facilities were lacking.

Ihekweazu said that for now, there are 15 Emergency Operation Centres (EOCs) in the country.

He said that the establishment of the EOCs would help coordinate the response to infectious diseases from the Incidence Coordination Centre (ICC) in Abuja.

“Our goal is to have a treatment centre in every state capital, though they may not be at the same level and the same capacity, but our desire is that by the end of 2020, there should be treatment and isolation centre as well as an Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) in every state capital,” Ihekweazu said.

Edo is one of the states that has established a treatment centre.

The treatment centre located inside the Stella Obasanjo Hospital, Benin City, will handle cases in Edo South, as the state plans to build another treatment centre in Auchi, for victims in Edo North.

There is already a treatment centre located at the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH), for victims in Edo Central.

Dr David Osifo, former Commissioner for Health in Edo, said the idea of locating treatment centres in the three senatorial districts of Edo is to decongest the ISTH.

“We plan to duplicate the equipment we have in ISTH, at the Auchi treatment centre; this means that each of the three senatorial districts in Edo will have a treatment centre.

“By the time we put all these facilities in place, we are sure that the high mortality rate of Lassa fever in the state will drop,” Osifo said.

The NCDC is reviewing its strategies to tackle possible Lassa fever outbreak in 2020.

The strategies include increased training   of health workers, awareness creation campaigns- before the outbreak and early deployment of One-Health Rapid Response Teams, to affected states, among others.

A review of activities at the ISTH and some communities in Esako West Local Government Area, of Edo, which accounted for the highest number of cases, showed that funds would play a major role if progress must be made in controlling and eradicating Lassa fever and other infectious diseases.

With a robust response, Lassa fever cases could significantly decline from the fatality rate of 27 per cent and 22 per cent in 2018 and 2019 respectively, to a lower level considered not to be a national emergency.

Ihekweazu noted that the Federal Government was aware of the importance of adequate funding, adding that the aim was to ensure funding was not a hindrance in tackling the Lassa fever challenge.

“We are providing resources through the Basic Primary Healthcare Provision Fund (the new funding instituted by the Federal Government) to cover the cost of treatment of confirmed cases of Lassa fever patients.

“The aim is to make sure that ability to pay is not a barrier to accessing the treatment for public health diseases such as Lassa fever,” Ihekweazu said.

Prof. Sylvanus Okogbenin, the Chief Medical Director of the ISTH, said that the NCDC and its partners have done so much to curtail the spread of Lassa fever and other diseases.

He said that the NCDC supplies the hospital Ribavrin, the major drug used in the treatment of Lassa fever patients, free.

To achieve more result, Okogbenin said that Lassa pack, that sold for N19,500, was sometimes given out free to those who cannot afford them, just to ensure that they do not go back to their communities with the disease.

“We are happy to do the work we are doing and we enjoy the support we get to discharge our duty.

“Many of the patients are very poor, and when NCDC gives us Ribavrin and other items at low cost, we also give it back to the patients at low cost.

“Otherwise, Ribavrin is very expensive, and if we are going to give a patient the cost for 10 days, ordinarily it will cost over N400, 000, but it is given to us free and we give to the patients free.

“We have a new technology for Lassa fever test, which cost about N250,000, just to see whether a suspect is positive or negative, but when we get supplies from NCDC and Federal Ministry of Health, we  also conduct the test free.

“We cannot send patients home because they don’t have money; if we do so, we will be endangering the lives of other people, so we treat them free,” Okogbenin said.

In the same vein, Dr Patrick Okundia, Medical Director, Stella Obasanjo Hospital Benin, praised the efforts of the NCDC in tackling the Lassa fever challenge.

He commended NCDC for its support, especially the training of health workers, and provision of logistics for handling of emergencies.

Lassa fever survivours also commended the efforts of the government towards the eradication of infectious diseases.

They also urged the government to reward health workers that have risked their lives in the fight against Lassa fever,

One of the survivours Aide Odion, told that he was grateful to NCDC and Edo State Government for the support and enlightenment which gave him and his family members the opportunity to be alive.

“It started with my wife in December 2017, and she was discharged on Dec. 31 and on Jan. 13, my two kids got infected; I usually go to visit them and before I realised it, I contacted the disease.

“I am grateful that we all came out alive, because I saw with eyes how people died, although it cost me a lot of money.

“I spent about N450,000 to get four of us treated of the disease; I borrowed money; however, I was positive throughout the period because I always say that I will not die or lose any member of my family to the disease, and I thank God it happened that way,” Odion said.

Another survivours Ndubuisi Ojonike, an indigene of Enugu State, who resides in Auchi, appealed to the government to appreciate health workers as they risk their lives to save the lives of patients.

.Mr Tony Ekhayemhe who also survived the dreaded disease with his wife and son, said he now educates people on how to avoid Lassa fever.

With adequate funding, sustained sensitisation and enlightenment, the high incidence of Lassa fever disease will be greatly reduced.(Features)

**(NAN)

Foreign

Nigeria records 41 Lassa fever deaths

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A total of 41 deaths from Lassa fever have been recorded in Nigeria’s northeastern state of Bauchi since the onset of viral disease outbreak in the country early this year, an official said Saturday.

Rilwanu Mohammed, executive chairman of Bauchi State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, told reporters that a case of COVID-19 reported early has greater chances to get treated and recover than cases of Lassa fever in the state.

He said the state government has intensified training of staff on how to carry out effective fumigation and spraying to prevent the spread of the disease.

Lassa fever is reportedly transmitted when saliva, urine and excreta of rats come into contact with humans. In some cases, it has similar symptoms as malaria.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Lassa fever kills 39 in Nigeria’s northern state: official

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A total of 39 people had died of Lassa fever since the beginning of this year in the northeastern state of Bauchi, an official said late Wednesday.

“On the issue of Lassa fever, 39 people have lost their lives since January till date, but currently, we have only one case on admission and he is about to be discharged,” State Commissioner for Health Aliyu Maigoro disclosed this at a news conference in Bauchi city, the state capital.

“We have stayed for almost four to five weeks now without anybody being admitted for Lassa fever in the state,” he added.

According to him, the state governor has supported the campaign against Lassa fever long before the COVID-19 pandemic and that was what really helped in intensifying the effort.

“We have gone up to zero with Lassa fever in the state,” he said.

Lassa fever is reportedly transmitted when saliva, urine and excreta of rats come into contact with humans. In some cases, it has similar symptoms as malaria.

Recent epidemiological data show that Lassa fever usually occurs in the country during the dry season between January and April.

(XINHUA)

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Health

39 persons die of lassa fever in Bauchi

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The Bauchi State Government says 39 people have lost their lives to Lassa fever in the state since January.

Dr Aliyu Maigoro, Bauchi State Commissioner for Health, disclosed this at a news conference in Bauchi on Wednesday.

He revealed that due to the timely and massive intervention by the state governor, Bala Mohammad, the only person currently on admission and receiving treatment would soon be discharged.

“On the issue of Lassa fever, 39 people have lost their lives since January till date, but currently, we have only one case on admission and he is about to be discharged.

“We have stayed for almost four to five weeks now without anybody being admitted for lassa fever in the state.

“His Excellency, the Executive governor, really supported the campaign against lassa fever even before the COVID-19 pandemic and that was what really helped in intensifying the effort that we have gone up to zero with Lassa fever in the state,” he said.

The commissioner also disclosed that 342 contacts were listed and whose samples had been taken, adding that, out of the figure, a total of 49 cases were confirmed and recorded.

“Up to 18th week, 342 cases were listed and samples were taken.

“Out of that figure, up to week 18, we recorded a total number of 48 cases, and with the one currently on admission, making 49.

“When you compare the death from this year to last year, in 2019 we had a case fatality rate of 20.5 but this year, we have a case fatality of 40.4.

“This shows that there is an increase in the dead this year, compared to last year,” he said.

Edited By: Fela Fashoro/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

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Health

19 people die of Lassa fever in Bauchi, says deputy governor

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The Bauchi State Government says 19 people have lost their lives to Lassa fever in the state since January.

The Deputy Governor, Alhaji Baba Tela, who is also the Chairman, Bauchi State Task Force Committee on COVID-19 and Lassa Fever, disclosed this at a news conference in Bauchi on Thursday.

Tela also revealed that no fewer than 48 people were being monitored and undergoing treatment on the deadly disease in the state.

“It is not as if we have gotten rid of Lassa fever completely in the state.

“No! We have not.

“So far as of week 14 of our campaign, the total number of deaths to Lassa fever is 19 and we don’t have any new case so far.

“We are also following up contacts of about 48 persons.

“Those 48 have been confirmed and are under medication and they are recovering very well,” Tela said.

The deputy governor further urged residents to always report any suspected case of Lassa fever in the state as early diagnosis and treatment could help patients recover.

He said that the state government would embark on a massive sensitisation of the public to the nature of the disease.

He said that in the course of sensitisation, the masses wouls be educated on what to do and what to abstain from.

“The most important thing again on the issue of Lassa fever is public awareness and that is what we are trying to do – telling the people what to do and what not to do.

“For example, we have been educating people not to touch the body of a relative who dies of the disease because one can get infected by touching the body.

“We understand the pain of losing someone dear to you but people would say the last thing they would do for them is to wash them up in Islamic way and bury them.

“But even doing that is creating more health hazard.

“That is what we have been trying to inform people that they should try as long as the death is from Lassa fever, to quickly inform the authority so that something can be done about it,” the deputy governor advised.

According to him, the state government has released N25 million as part of efforts targeted toward fighting Lassa fever in the state.

/

Edited By: Folasade Adeniran/Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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Health

Lassa Fever: NCDC deploys health workers to hospitals in Edo, Ondo

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The Nigeria Center For Disease Control (NCDC) says it has deployed personnel to Specialist Teaching Hospital, Irua, Edo, and the Federal Medical Center, Owo, Ondo, in spite of a decrease in Lassa fever outbreak which is in its week 14.

Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director-General of NCDC, told the Nigeria News Agency , in Abuja, that the centre deployed clinicians, lab technicians and hygienists to the hospitals to manage a national response on Lassa fever amidst the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), crisis in the country.

Ihekweazu said that the National Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), for Lassa fever had also  been activated to coordinate response activities across states with confirmed cases.

He further said that the National Rapid Response Teams had been deployed from NCDC to support response activities in 10 states.

The NCDC helmsman said that the five molecular laboratories for Lassa fever testing were working at full capacity to ensure that all samples were tested and results provided within the shortest possible time.

Ihekweazu disclosed that NCDC was working to support every state in Nigeria to identify one treatment centre, while supporting existing ones with care, treatment and other essentials.

He, however, said that risk communications and community engagement activities had been scaled up across states using television, radio, print, social media and other strategies.

He added that the implementation of Lassa Fever Environmental Response Campaign in high burden states by the Federal Ministry of Environment was still ongoing.

Giving the highlights of Week 14, he said that the number of new confirmed cases decreased from 19 cases in week 13 to 12 cases in Week 14..

The NCDC DG said that these were reported from five states namely; Edo, Ondo, Ebonyi, Bauchi and Sokoto.

Ihekweazu said that the cumulatively from week 1 to week 14, 2020, 188 deaths had been reported with a case fatality rate (CFR) of 19.5 per cent which, he said was lower than 22.7 per cent CFR for the same period in 2019.

“In total, 27 states have recorded at least one confirmed case across 126 Local Government Areas in 2020.

“The male to female ratio for confirmed cases is 1:1.2,” he said.

The DG, however, said that the number of suspected cases had significantly increased compared to that reported for the same period in 2019.

He expressed delight that there was no new case of healthcare workers’ infection in the week under review. ( NAN)

Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Nyisom Fiyigon Dore
(NAN)

 

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Health

Death toll from Lassa fever outbreak hits 193

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The death toll from the Lassa fean outbreak of Lassa fever has risen to 173, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has said.

The NCDC said that this represents a

Case Fatality Rate (CFR), of 18.9 per cent.

Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director-General of NCDC, told Nigeria News Agency , on Friday in Abuja, while giving an update of on the Lassa fever outbreak that

amidst the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), outbreak in the country, the agency has continued to manage a national Lassa fever outbreak.

He said that in week 12, the number of new confirmed cases decreased from 51 cases in week 11, to 28 cases.

The NCDC DG said that these were reported case in 12 states, Edo, Ondo, Ebonyi, Bauchi, Taraba, Plateau, Kogi, Abia, Enugu, FCT, Benue and Gombe.

“This is cumulatively from week one to week 12., 173 deaths have been reported with CFR of 18.9 per cent which is lower than the CFR for the same period in 2019 with 22.9 per cent.

“In total for 2020, 27 states have recorded at least one confirmed case across 125 Local Government Areas.

“Of all confirmed cases, 72 per cent are from three states, which are Edo,with

 

33 per cent, Ondo with 32 per cent and Ebonyi with seven  per cent.

“The predominant age-group affected is 21 to 30 years, range: from one to 78 years, Median Age: 33 years. The male to female ratio for confirmed cases is 1:1.2,” he explained.

Ihekweazu said that the number of suspected cases had significantly increased compared to that reported for the same period in 2019.

”With joy that there were no healthcare workers affected in the reporting week 12,” he said.

The NCDC DG said the National Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) had

 

been activated to coordinate response activities across states.

“Of the states with confirmed cases, eight of them have activated state- level EOCs

National Rapid Response Teams have been deployed from NCDC to support response activities in 10 States.

“Surge staff Doctors, Nurses, Laboratorians and Hygienist, are deployed to ISTH and FMC Owo. And also State Public Health Emergency Operations Centre activated in affected States,” he said.

According to him, the five molecular laboratories for Lassa fever testing in the NCDC network are working full capacity to ensure that all samples are tested and results provided within the shortest turnaround time

He said that NCDC was working to support every state in Nigeria to identify one treatment centre, while supporting existing ones with care, treatment and IPC commodities.

Ihekweazu said that the risk communications and community engagement activities have been scaled up across states using television, radio, print, social media and other strategies.

He, however added that there was an Implementation of Lassa fever Environmental response campaign in high burden states by Federal Ministry of Environment.

Ihekweazu stressed that Lassa fever is a disease spread to humans through food or household items contaminated with rodent urine or faeces.

“In 80 per cent of cases, the fever is asymptomatic, but for some, the symptoms include high fever, headache, mouth ulcers, muscle aches, haemorrhaging under the skin and heart and kidney failure.

“It has an incubation period of between six and 21 days and can be transmitted through contact with an infected person via bodily fluids and excretion.

He advised Nigerians on a more effective personal hygiene, storing grain and other foodstuffs in rodent-proof containers, and disposing of garbage far from their

 

homes to help sustain clean households.

AIR /SH

Edited By: Sadiya Hamza
(NAN)

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Education

Frequent strikes pushing Nigerians to study in inferior universities abroad – Prof Lassa

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Frequent strikes pushing Nigerians to study in inferior universities abroad – Prof Lassa: Prof. Peter Lassa, a Professor of Mathematics Education and the first Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE), has said that frequent strikes by Nigerian university lecturers are pushing many Nigerians to study in inferior universities abroad.

Lassa, a one-time Deputy Vice Chancellor, Administration of University of Jos, said this while reacting to the ongoing strike by university lecturers in an interview with Nigeria News Agency on Monday in Jos.

According to him, many Nigerians seek admission into universities in neighbouring African countries not because of the superiority of their academic programmes, but the stability of their academic calendars.

He noted that the incessant strikes had affected teaching and learning and had led to the colossal falling standard of education in the country.

The Don decried that the uncertainties in Nigerian universities had denied students the opportunity to graduate as and when due, owing to unnecessary delays occasioned by frequent strikes.

“Frequent strikes have affected teaching and learning and as a result, we are seeing falling standard of graduating students from the universities.

“Strike often forces teachers to condense the time table of courses and rush the students to examination.

“When curriculum says three credit courses require three hours lectures spread over a week for students to assimilate, but when a lecturer condenses a lecture, that leads to half-baked student.

“Today, students in Nigerian universities hardly know when they will graduate and some of these uncertainties make many students prefer universities in neighbouring African countries.

“This is not because of the superiority of their academic programmes, but the stability of their academic calendar. These students go abroad because our universities have failed to meet their aspirations,” Lassa said.

He further decried the psychological effect of the strikes on the students, adding that the consequences usually faced by students and their parents were largely enormous.

He also said that strike actions by lecturers often led to huge economic loss, as bills for services provided were still being paid by government without being adequately utilised.

“During strikes, universities are shut down; the staff demand that they are paid salaries. During the several months they are on strike the universities still run and pay for services, such as power, water, security and also take care of buildings.

“One month strike by a public university is estimated to be a huge loss amounting to billions. This is really not a good for us.

“The students also go through some psychological trauma and the effect is mostly enormous,” the don decried.

He called on the ASUU and government to seek other alternatives of resolving such disputes.  

Edited By: Abdullahi Yusuf
(NAN)

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APO

Borno closes Lassa fever outbreak, briefs Media on COVID-19

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Following concerted partners’ response, led by the World Health Organization, the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Salihu Kwayabura has declared an end of Lassa fever outbreak in Borno State. The current outbreak, which was the second in almost five decades, was isolated from a 30-year old man from Garba Buzu settlement in Maiduguri Metropolitan Council on 23 January 2020.

With the technical guidance of WHO, a team comprising of the Commissioner for Health as Chairman, the Chief Medical Director of the Hospitals Management Board, an infection prevention group at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, UNICEF among others initiated response activities including robust surveillance, contact tracing, risk communication and case management as soon as the index case was reported. 

As of 25 February 2020, 21 cases were reported including 3 confirmed cases with 2 deaths from 9 Local Government Areas. These include Jere, MMC, Gwoza, Monguno, Bayo, Mafa, Biu, Chibok and Askira Uba. Since then, no new cases of Lassa fever were isolated from any part of Borno State.

Although, the outbreak of Lassa fever has been declared over in the State, surveillance and risk communication continue, to ensure that no suspected cases are missed and that the public protects themselves.  “WHO will not lower its surveillance guard and risk communication on Lassa fever despite that the outbreak has been declared closed,” says WHO Emergency Manager, Dr. Collins Owili.

In another development, the Borno State Commissioner for Health has also briefed journalists on the Borno State preparedness for COVID-19. Acknowledging that Borno State has not confirmed a case of COVID-19, Dr. Kwayabura stated that it is imperative to scale up preparedness especially surveillance and risk communication. “We do not have any cases of COVID-19 in Borno State yet, the State Ministry of Health with the support of WHO and partners has activated Emergency Operations Centre that developed a comprehensive preparedness plan in case of COVID-19 outbreak,” says Dr. Kwayabura. 

The Commissioner for Health explained that Borno State initiated temperature screening at the airport for all travelers as well as detailed documentation and close monitoring of travelers arriving from countries where COVID-19 transmission is active. Other response trims include case management, infection prevention control, contact tracing, surveillance and risk communication.

He enjoined the media to educate the public on basic hand-hygiene, coughing etiquette and temperature monitoring.

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Health

Traditional Medicine Board sensitise members on COVID-19, Lassa fever in Lagos

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Prof. Adefule Oshitelu, Chairman, Lagos State Board of Traditional Medicine, on Thursday tasked traditional medicine practitioners on good hygiene to curb the spread of COVID-19 and Lassa fever.

Oshitelu spoke with the Nigeria News Agency at a workshop organised by the Nigeria Council of Physician of Natural Medicine and the Lagos State Board of Traditional Medicine in Lagos.

The workshop, organised in collaboration with the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Yaba, was used to sensitise traditional practitioners on COVID-19 and Lassa fever.

She said the traditional healers have a major role to play in curbing the spread of the virus, noting that they were the first port of contacts in their various localities.

“We decided to organise this workshop at this period to enlighten those that are into natural medicine, because of the COVID-19 pandemic and Lassa fever that we have been nursing for years.

“We need to educate them on how to protect themselves and those who contact them for treatment before going to the hospital.

“We want to show it to the people that nature is very good and to the Western world; we have things that can suppress this pandemic.

“But, we must toe the line of the Federal Ministry of Health, Lagos State Health Ministry and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control to curtail the spread of the pandemic,’’ she said.

Also, Dr Oluwagbemiga Aina, the Coordinator of Centre for Research in Traditional and Alternative Medicine at NIMR, said that the workshop was timely.

“This is coming at the right time because they are the first people that patients go to before going to the hospitals.

“So, it is good for us to enlighten them on the preventive measures against COVID-19 and Lassa fever,’’ he said.

Aina, also the Acting Head of Department, Biochemistry and Nutrition in NIMR, said the institution would continue to collaborate with the traditional practitioners to promote their medicine.

“Here in NIMR, we have a centre where we work and promote herbal medicine.

“Our Director-General in NIMR has a passion and believe that some of our herbs should be able to cure some of the diseases.

“So, that is why we carry out research on their drugs to authenticate their claims and know if they are good for consumption,’’ Aina said.

Commenting, Dr Gab Okafor, a Public Health Physician, said the workshop would help the practitioners to observe the practice needed in their domain.

Okafor, also of the Department, Biochemistry and Nutrition in NIMR, said that the practitioners were the key components of the prevention in their various localities.

“At their levels, we are concentrating more on prevention, owing to the fact that we now have more cases in the country.

“We didn’t just tell them about the prevention of the diseases, we also told them how it came about and its effect generally.

“The practices they need to observe in their domain and how they can contribute to curtailing the spread, because they operate at the community level,’’ she said.

Edited By: Abigael Joshua/Olagoke Olatoye
(NAN)

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Contact US: editor @nnn.com.ng, nnnnews247 @gmail.com

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