Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole Tuesday announced the escape of a Lassa fever patient in Ebonyi state.
The patient, whose identity was not made public, it was learnt escaped from the health facility where he was receiving treatment.
The minister made the disclosure during the emergency meeting of National Council on Health in Abuja. The National Council on Health is the highest advisory body on health in the country.
The minister also inaugurated the 15 member Lassa fever eradication committee, to address the outbreak of the disease and other communicable disease in the country. The committee is headed by Prof.
The minister while the meeting was on announced to the entire gathering that he just received a text that a Lassa fever patient had escaped from a health facility in Ebonyi while undergoing treatment.
The minister therefore urged the relevant agency and the state government to do everything possible to trace the patient and those who might have had contact with the patient.
The Emergency session of the National Council on Health (NCH) on Lassa Fever Outbreak approved that a high index of suspicion should be maintained and the surveillance systems should be robust enough to detect further infections.
Other decision reached at the meeting also approved the inauguration of the Multi-Sectoral Lassa Fever Eradication Committee and also implementation of the Multi-Sectoral Response Strategy.
The meeting broadly aimed to lay the foundation for a Multi-Sectoral Response to the Lassa Fever Outbreak which has claimed about 46 lives since the outbreak of the disease in August 2015 in Niger.
Council received a presentation from Prof. Isaac F. Adewole, Hon. Minister of Health titled “Laying the Foundation for a Multi-Sectoral Response to Lassa Fever”. The presentation elucidated the Multi-Sectoral Response Strategy for the control of Lassa fever and other similar diseases.
He called on all the States to strengthen their surveillance systems, report all cases and collaborate with the Federal Ministry of Health in the successful implementation of the Multi-Sectoral Response Strategy. Six Councils also received a presentation on Epidemiological Situation of the current Lassa Fever Outbreak in Nigeria including available Response Infrastructure/Resource requirements by Prof. Abdulsalami Nasidi, National Coordinator/CEO, NCDC; updates from Lassa Fever affected states who detailed the progression of the outbreak(s) in their states and current efforts to contain and prevent further spread of the disease and reassure the affected Communities; as well as updates from CMDs/MDs of Federal Tertiary Health Institutions located within the affected States on their response and high index of suspicion towards all cases coming to their institutions, their management of confirmed cases, and measures being implemented to prevent nosocomial spread within their facilities as well as their community outreach efforts.
The Council also observed that unlike Ebola, Lassa fever is treatable if detected early and there are adequate treatment centres spread across the country. Council therefore reassured the Public on the adequacy of the response to the outbreak and urged the Public, Community and Religious leaders to cooperate with the Health Agencies in their States to ensure prompt reporting of any suspected case.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the inaugurated Lassa fever committee, Prof. Oyewole Tomori has disabused the mind of the people on the possibility of eradicating the disease.
Tomori said that as far as there are rodents it will be impossible to eradicate the disease.
He however said that what the committee will work hard at is to ensure that the disease is brought under control to the point that it is no longer an epidemic.
He said: “We cannot eradicate Lassa fever but we can control it as not to allow it to become an epidemic.”
He further tresses that it is not that the country does not know what to do but “We don’t put our money where our mouth is.”
He therefore added that “this committee is not about Lassa alone but one that tackles all communicable diseases.
On the expected challenge the committee might encounter, Prof. Tomori said main challenge the committee might encounter could be in the area of funds.
He however said with the assurance given by the minister, it is believed that is over.
Tomori also said that it was important for the committee to properly utilize the funds that will be released to it in a transparent manner. (The Nation)