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Declare Lassa fever national emergency, says Academy of Science

By Chukwuma Muanya, Gbenga Salau (Lagos) and Cornelius Essen (Abuja)
11 February 2020   |   4:18 am
The Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS) has urged the Federal Government (FG) to declare Lassa fever a public health incident of national emergency and concern.

• Lagos strengthens response capacity to tackle Coronavirus, others
• Nigeria’s support helpful in fighting scourge, says Chinese consulate
• Gates Foundation to spend $100m on disease

The Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS) has urged the Federal Government (FG) to declare Lassa fever a public health incident of national emergency and concern.

President of NAS, Professor K. Mosto Onuoha, told journalists yesterday that in the last 50 years, Lassa fever has been occurring in perennial outbreaks in nearly all the states of Nigeria, with increasing numbers of suspected cases, dry season peaks and unacceptably high cases of fatality.

Onuoha said while a drug exists for the treatment of the disease, inefficient laboratory diagnosis and late admission of patients in hospitals make the drug less effective in treating Lassa fever patients.

He said the spread of the disease might have resulted from increasing human-rodent contact in an explosive population of rodents generated by pervasive poor environmental sanitation.

“Nigeria must take positive and sustained action to prevent and control Lassa fever and not wait until more fatalities are recorded as a result of the yearly occurrence,” he stressed.

Besides, Lagos State Government said as part of efforts to strengthen its preparedness and response capacity in combating public health emergencies and securities, it has commenced training for emergency response and health workers in 20 council areas and 37 local council development areas.

Director General, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Dr. Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, speaking at a briefing on its emergency response plan and preparedness for epidemics, disclosed that the agency has constituted a five-man committee on Epidemic preparedness response plan, to train emergency responders at the local governments as well as carry out road shows in all the local governments to ensure information about epidemics like coronavirus and Lassa fever gets to the grassroots.

However, Chinese Consul General in Lagos, Chu Maoming, has declared that his country appreciated Nigeria’s assistance so far in combating the Coronavirus disease.

He said he was grateful to the Nigerian Government and people for their precious support to China, adding that President Muhammadu Buhari extended his good wishes to President Xi Jinping and citizens of the People’s Republic of China.

Maoming added that it was important to let Nigeria and its citizens know that standing by China during the Coronavirus outbreak meant so much and would deepen bilateral relations between both countries.

Meanwhile, the Bill and Gates Foundation has disclosed that it would spend $100m million in response to the outbreak of Coronavirus in order to protect at-risk populations in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

This is in response to global calls to improve detection, isolation and treatment of the disease, accelerate development of vaccines, drugs and diagnostics to help curtail the epidemic.