Lassa fever outbreak: Reps decry high death rate

 ...136 death, 603 confirmed positive

The House of Representatives on Wednesday called on Federal Government to take proactive steps toward containing the scourge of Lassa Fever across the country.

The resolution was passed sequel to the adoption of a motion on the recent outbreak of Lassa Fever in Benue State, sponsored by Hon. Robert Aondona Tyough, who affirmed that Lassa fever is spread by the consumption of rodents which is a delicacy in Benue State.

In his lead debate, Hon. Tyough observed that Lassa fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic illness of 2 to 21 days duration that is transmitted to humans through contact with food or household items contaminated with urine or feces of a rodent.

The lawmaker who urged the relevant health agencies to find preventive measures to save Nigerians from the lethal disease observed that person-to-person infections and laboratory transmission can also occur, particularly in hospitals lacking adequate infection prevention and control measures.

According to him, “Lassa fever is known to be endemic in Benin, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria, but probably exists in other West African countries as well.

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“The House is aware that on 21 January 2019, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) declared an outbreak of Lassa fever following an increase in the number of cases, a total of 213 confirmed cases were reported in 16 States including Edo, Ondo, Ebonyi, Bauchi, Plateau, Taraba, Gombe, Anambra, Kaduna, Kwara, FCT, Benue, Rivers, Nassarawa and Kogi across 40 Local Government Areas leading to the death of 41 people.

“The House is also aware that in the reporting week 26 between 24 – 30 June 2019, two new confirmed cases were reported from the two States of Edo (1) and Benue (1) with one death from Benue state.

“The House is further aware that from 1st January to 30th June 2019, a total of 2,882 suspected cases have been reported from 22 states, of which 603 were confirmed positive, 17 probable and 2,262 were negative.

“The House is concerned that since the onset of the 2019 outbreak in the country, there have been 136 confirmed cases of deaths thereby putting the fatality ratio in confirmed cases to a high 22.6%.

“The House is worried that the Benue State Commissioner for Health and Human Services, Dr. Sunday Ongbabo had confirmed another round of outbreak of Lassa fever in the state with the death of a patient in Makurdi, the State Capital,” he noted.

On his part, Hon. Richard Grande, admonished the government to ensure its responsibility towards the well-being of Nigerians is carried out to the fullest.

In his remarks, Hon. Julius Ihonvbere also harped on the need for cohesive agreement towards improving national environmental health.

On his part, Hon. Yusuf Sununu, Chairman, House Committee on Health, bemoaned lack of specialized health centers for specific ailments, which he said would sensitize the populace on peculiar causes, symptoms, and treatment of specific diseases.

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He, therefore, called for the provision of skilled personnel with personal protective equipment on the ground, in the bid to curtail the scourge of the deadly disease.

To this end, the House urged the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and Federal Ministry of Health to ensure that the outbreak is contained to reduce the fatality ratio in confirmed cases.

The lawmakers also tasked the Federal Ministry of Health to create more awareness on the dangers of Lassa Fever and other communicable diseases to enable the populace to adopt preventive measures to avoid contracting the disease.

To this end, the House mandated the Committee on Healthcare Services to ensure compliance and report back within four weeks for further legislative action.

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