Contrary to reports that the nation’s prohibitive cost of Lassa fever treatment is engendering high mortality, the Minister of Health Professor Isaac Adewole has said the federal government has continued to lead the response to the Lassa fever outbreak across the country.
In a statement signed by the Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu made available to journalists, Adewole said government’s response has been timely and effective.
He pointed out that the headline recently carried by a national newspaper that the prohibitive cost of treatment is engendering high mortality from Lassa fever was far from the true picture of Lassa fever treatment in the country.
“While the Nigerian Government has welcomed the support of Non-Governmental Organisations such as the Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA), they have come to support existing efforts by the Federal Government and State Governments who continue to lead the response to the Lassa fever outbreak” he said.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria accepts primary responsibility for the response, a responsibility that we take very seriously.”
Ihekweazu pointed out that while they acknowledge the high cost of treating Lassa fever cases in Nigeria, especially the cost of the drug Ribavirin, it is pertinent to state unequivocally that the federal government of Nigeria has ensured that Ribavirin has been provided free-of-charge to patients, for every single case of Lassa fever reported in Nigeria in 2018.
He said, “Despite the significant costs, there has not been a single day of stock-out of Ribavirin in any of the treatment centres in Nigeria. In addition to this, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has ensured that every state in Nigeria has an emergency stock of Ribavirin available to manage cases.
“In addition to Ribavirin, the treatment centres have been provided with other essential commodities required for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of Lassa fever cases.”
According to him, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has had rapid response teams, supporting the state governments of Edo, Ondo and Ebonyi for six weeks supporting all aspects of the response.
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