With increasing reports of Lassa fever cases across the country, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the September 28 Edo State gubernatorial elections, Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki, has charged health officials in the state to strengthen epidemiology surveillance and response in order to curtail the spread of the disease while promising to boost healthcare facilities for improved service delivery when elected governor.
Obaseki made the charge when he received a group of young medical students who paid him a courtesy visit in Benin City. In his address to the students, he noted that boosting education and improving healthcare delivery in the state are a critical part of his prosperity agenda for Edo people.
On the topical public health issue of Lassa fever, Obaseki said, “Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital is one of only two hospitals in Nigeria with functional laboratories for testing and confirmation of Lassa fever disease, and we must leverage on the institution’s expertise to ensure an adequate state-wide response in case of an outbreak.”
“We must not wait till there is an epidemic in Edo State before we take action. With the rising cases of Lassa fever across the country – including neighboring Delta – health institutions in the state must remain vigilant, and increase epidemiology surveillance and response so as to prevent an outbreak. We – the people – must also pay more attention to sanitizing our environment and keeping our homes and communities clean. Improved personal hygiene will also go a long way in keeping our families safe and in good health.”
The APC flagbearer acknowledged the remarkable efforts of the current administration in revitalizing healthcare institutions in the state while promising: “Our administration will continue the good works of Governor Oshiomhole by ensuring that our hospitals are equipped with modern health care facilities and staffed with sufficient and well trained care givers for better service delivery.”
Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic illness of 2-21 days duration that occurs in West Africa. The Lassa virus is transmitted to humans via contact with food or household items contaminated with rodent urine or faeces. Person-to-person infections and laboratory transmission can also occur, particularly in hospitals lacking adequate infection prevent and control measures.
Update on the World Health Organisation (WHO) website showed that between August 2015 and 17 May 2016, WHO has been notified of 273 cases of Lassa fever, including 149 deaths in Nigeria. Of these, 165 cases and 89 deaths have been confirmed through laboratory testing. The cases were reported from 23 states, including Anambra and Delta States, which lost two medical doctors to the disease just two weeks ago.
Early supportive care with rehydration and symptomatic treatment improves survival.