Lassa fever: No cause for alarm, NAUTH assures residents

Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital (NAUTH), Nnewi, Anambra State has assured residents that every arrangement has been put in place to tackle any outbreak of Lassa fever epidemic across the state.

Chairman, Medical and Advisory Committee (CEMAC), Dr Joseph Ugboaja made the disclosure yesterday, at the hospital on the readiness of the health institution to contain any outbreak of the epidemic that had reportedly killed 29 in 11 States across Nigeria.

He said the readiness of the hospital included sensitisation of the hospital and host communities on prevention, healthcare workers on how to protect themselves.

“We’re also educating the people on how to identify a likely case so as to mount the necessary response.

Ugboaja revealed that the hospital had a standby Lassa fever committee working round the year to that effect.

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He said: “We’ve drawn up algorithms pasted at strategic places and fumigated the hospital environment having ensured that there is clean water running for adequate sanitation.

“But specifically in terms of response, we have two prongs: first is building and equipping an isolation centre. Actually, we are the first health institution in the SouthEast to have a fully accredited isolation centre for such emergency cases.

“That centre is built and equipped with the necessary infrastructure. Additionally, we have sent our people on training in terms of how to manage suspicious cases.

“Before now, we sent eight nurses, four doctors who are medical officers, microbiologists, consultants and family medicine physicians. We sent pharmacists, a medical laboratory scientist, hygienist and of course other relevant health workers.

“Those medical experts were at Iruua Specialist Hospital, Edo State for two weeks to have the necessary training on how to tackle the outbreak of any epidemic disease.

Ugbaja hinted that the Chief Medical Director of the health institution, Prof Anthony Igwegbe recently called a meeting of the relevant stakeholders to ensure everything was ready for any eventuality.

He assured of enough drugs at the pharmacy and had deployed a trained medical team to the isolation centre.

He said: “Once we suspect a patient, he’s moved straight to the isolation ward where the trained healthcare personnel would work on the person.

“We take the sample and send to a public health laboratory, Iruua Specialist Hospital. If the sample is negative, we discharge the patient from the isolation ward.

“But if the sample turns out to be positive, immediate action would be taken for treatment at the appropriate place. We don’t leave anything to chance given the fact that there is an algorithm we follow.”

He advised the public to embark upon optimal environmental sanitation exercise within and outside their homes, adding that since the transmitter vehicle had been the rat, people should guard against rat infestation around their environments.

He also advised governments and other hospitals to cater set up isolation centres to reduce the burden on a few hospitals that already have it.

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