The World Bank has given Nigeria about $90 million to assist the country handle disease outbreaks.
Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole announced this on Thursday while briefing journalists in Abuja, on the current status of Lassa fever in Nigeria and on the nation’s preparedness to prevent Ebola outbreak. According to him, as at May 7, 2018, 423 cases of lassa fever have been confirmed with 106 deaths recorded, Business Day reported.
According to Adewole, “You may recall that since the beginning of January 2018, we have experienced the largest Lassa fever outbreak in history. As at the 7th of May 2018, we had 423 confirmed cases and 106 deaths was recorded.
The Minister also announced the end of emergency phase of Lassa fever.
“The Lassa fever outbreak provided an opportunity for us to review and strengthen our public health system across disease preparedness, detection, surveillance and response.
“The Federal Ministry of Health through NCDC activated an Emergency Operation Centres that worked extensively to coordinate outbreak response activities. We also supported the establishment of EOCs in the high burden States of Ondo, Edo and Ebonyi.
“Rapid Response Teams were deployed to States with cases where we supported enhanced surveillance activities, case investigation, management of cases and other response activities.
“During this outbreak, we supported the full operationalisation of the Virology Centre at the Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki and the development of its laboratory as a testing site. We have now grown from two laboratories in January 2017, to four laboratories in January 2018 with the capacity to test for Lassa fever”.
Adewole noted that, the end of the outbreak does not mean, Nigeria will no longer record cases of Lassa fever, “Given the epidemiology of the disease in Nigeria, there will still be reports of cases. However, we are now better prepared and have a stronger response architecture.
“One of our medium-term strategies which has already begun includes a nationwide training of healthcare workers on Lassa fever case management and diagnosis by NCDC and Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital. The first phase which covered all States in the South West of Nigeria ended in Akure on the 4th of May 2018. We are going to the South East from the 14th of May 2018″.
He added that the ministry is working very closely with WHO to strengthen research activities on Lassa fever including new diagnostic approaches and improved treatment options.
“The Government of Nigeria remains very grateful to all its partners including WHO, UNICEF, US Centers for Disease Control, Alliance for Medical Action (ALIMA), Robert Koch Institute and Bernard Nocht Institute in Germany, UK Public Health Rapid Support Team, Medecins Sans Frontiers, and other organisations.
“We also thank all health workers for their hard work and dedication during this outbreak. Once again, our heart goes to the families of health care givers that paid the supreme price while attending to patients, he said.
Reacting to the recent out break of Ebola in Congo, he said the Federal government has already has a national working group that is assessing and managing the risk to Nigeria.
“We are also aware of the outbreak of Ebola in Democratic Republic of Congo following an announcement by the country on the 8th of May 2018.
“The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control is currently coordinating a national working group that is assessing and managing the risk to Nigeria. We are in close communication with our partners including theWorld Health Organisation, who are in Congo to monitor and respond to the situation. The Port Health services unit has been placed on red-alert and will heighten screening measures at ports of entry.
Letters of alert have also been sent to all States to enhance surveillance activities and an advisory note for the general public.
“Over the last few years, we have strengthened our health security infrastructure to effectively prevent, detect and respond to infectious diseases including Ebola. The Federal Ministry of Health remains committed to ensuring the health and safety of all Nigerians.”