The Ondo State Government is battle ready to tackle Lassa Fever headlong as it is working assiduously to put situation under control.
The State Commissioner for Health, Dr Wahab Adegbenro made this statement at the meeting of the State Epidemic Preparedness and Response Committee which held in Akure.
Dr Adegbenro said the meeting of the extended committee which is multi sectoral in nature was called following the recent upsurge in the Lassa Fever outbreak in the state which in his words, calls for concern.
He said the State has not been sleeping over the issue, as the fatality rate in the month of January alone is alarming, hence the need for stakeholders to come together to profer lasting solution to the issue.
To tackle the situation headlong, the Health Commissioner said there a serious partnership between the State and the Treatment Center, Federal Medical Center Owo, on the treatment of patients.
Dr Adegbenro disclosed that the government has given FMC Beds, Personal Protective Equipments (PPE), making arrangement for a 100KVA Generator to power the Incidence Lab, Chemistry Analyser, Dialysis machine and some other consumables that will be ready in the next one week.
He said lots of sensitisation is on about Lassa Fever, which he described as a purely environmental issue, which can be resolved through proper environmental management, hygienic food processing procedures and stoppage of harmful habits that aid the spread of the Lassa virus.
The Health Commissioner on behalf of the state government thanked FMC Owo for their commitment in the battle against Lassa, promising that they will be compensated in due course.
He also thanked Developments Partners and other stakeholders for their commitment, while urging them to do whatever they want to do urgently as the period is a trying one for the state.
In his situation report, the State Epidemiologist, Dr Stephen Fagbemi disclosed that the outbreak has been on, consistently in the last three years and had not been totally put at bay because of the environmental management attitude of residents of the state.
The outbreak last year in his words, was thought to be the worst but the current one which started October last year is overwhelming.
He said the state is leading nationally with the statistics that he made available to stakeholders for January 2020 alone and this in his words, have both tourism and economic effect on the state.
Dr Fagbemi did a breakdown of the data available on Local Government basis saying the trend is worrisome and called for urgent intervention.
He said the upsurge in Akure is a very serious concern, as urgent measures must be taken to nip the tide in the bud, otherwise the situation will be difficult to control because it is a city.
He added that active case search and surveillance is on,to fish out cases but improper house numbering, inadequate funding and insecurity are very serious challenges inhibiting effective tackling of Lassa Fever.
Poor environmental management and waste disposal attitudes misconception and improper burial practices were identified as factors making it difficult to get rid of the scourge.
Corroborating the Epidemiologist, Dr Yaya Disu of the National Center for Disease Control said animal and human interface, poor waste management, poor food processing habits,misconception, inadequate resource for response and weak contact tracing are some factors that are responsible for the Lassa Fever upsurge.
Dr Disu said increase in the number of LGAs reporting confirmed cases, persistent reporting of cases throughout the year, spread of the outbreak to urban LGAs, increase in mortality rate and its attendant economic implication if not properly and urgently handled, could lead to a breakdown of the health system.
Talking about effective case management and challenges on its way, Dr Chuks Abejaga of the Federal Medical Center Owo said the Federal Medical Center Owo is over whelmed and needs urgent assistance to be able to effectively manage Lassa patients.
Urgent needs of FMC Owo as enumerated by Dr Chuks Abejaga include: beefing up of security, improved motivation, provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for infection prevention control, provision of reagents, Chemistry Analyser, Dialysis Machine and100 KVA Generator to power the incidence Lab.
Dr Adesina Akintan of the Unimed TH suggested that the State’s Infectious Disease Hospital be adequately equipped and empowed to serve effectively as holding center.
The Director Orientation and Mobilization Ministry of Information, Mr Bodunde Aladejimokun harped on the need for increased and impactful sensitisation through jingles produced in local languages and dialects.
He added that the Ministry of Information has risen up to the challenge ,as jingles are being produced to be aired to create awareness and keep the spread of Lassa Fever at bay.
Barr. Rotimi Adeyemi suggested massive eradication of Rats and empowerment of the Local Government to effectively collect and dispose refuse as the antidote to Lassa outbreak.
The Permanent Secretary Ministry of Agriculture, Alhaji Kunle Sanni spoke on roles of Ministries in tackling the menace of Lassa Fever.
In his opinion, the control of rodents is the way to go, as forest depletion and bush burning leaves no option for rodents than to seek for survival in peoples’ homes.
Alhaji Sanni said the Ministry of Agriculture has already drawn up sensitisation jingles to address this issue.
Earlier in his Welcome Address, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health ,Dr Dipo Durojaye said the issue of Lassa Fever requires a multi sectorial approach and collaborative effort of stakeholders to stem the tide hence the need for a serious and purpose full deliberation.
Abooluwa Famakinwa Press Officer Health