18 May, 2018 | Abuja – NIGERIA CENTRE FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND IRRUA SPECIALIST TEACHING HOSPITAL BEGIN NATIONWIDE TRAINING ON LASSA FEVER MANAGEMENT
Between January 1 and May 6 2018, Nigeria was faced with its largest outbreak of Lassa Fever. During this outbreak we saw more confirmed cases than the country had ever recorded.
The Federal Ministry of Health through the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and partners led by the World Health Organisation (WHO), led response activities across the country.
This included strengthening of infrastructure at the three main treatment centres in Irrua, Owo and Abakaliki; inclusion of a fourth laboratory for Lassa fever diagnosis at the Virology Centre, Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki; deployment of Rapid Response Teams to affected States; provision of drugs and personal protective equipment for treatment as well as risk communications activities to increase awareness across the country.
During the outbreak, nearly 85% of confirmed cases were from Edo, Ondo and Ebonyi.
During the 2018 outbreak, more than ever before, the Institute of Lassa Fever Research and Control at the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH) played a major role. This Institute manages the largest burden of Lassa fever cases in Nigeria and globally. Over the years, we have grown in our capacity to manage and diagnose Lassa fever cases.
Our health workers have been trained and effectively manage cases of Lassa fever cases till they are discharged.
While ISTH certainly cannot claim to have found all solutions to all the challenges, we have developed unique strengths in the management of Lassa fever. It is in line with this that we have set up collaboration with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), to implement a nationwide training of health workers on Lassa fever clinical diagnosis and management.
We know that given the epidemiology of Lassa fever in Nigeria, it is likely that the country will continue to record cases of Lassa fever. Our goal is to support other healthcare facilities in strengthening their capacity to manage Lassa fever cases.
This training will include Lassa Fever case management physicians and nurses at treatment centres, State Epidemiologists, State Disease Surveillance Officers, State Laboratory Scientists, and State Health Educators. These officers will be held accountable for the response and management of subsequent Lassa Fever outbreaks in their States.
The first phase which happened in the South West hosted by Ondo State, was deeply encouraging as health workers came with heightened zeal and dedication to take over the responsibility of managing Lassa fever cases in their States.
By the end of the training across the country, we hope to have built the capacity of frontline clinical, laboratory and public health workers on case management, laboratory diagnosis, prevention and control of Lassa Fever. In addition to this, we are working to improve the knowledge and skills of surveillance officers and healthcare workers for effective Lassa fever outbreak response.
From the 22nd of May, we will be in South-East Nigeria and subsequently complete all zones in the country by mid-2018.
The collaboration between ISTH and NCDC is an exemplary one, relying on each other’s strengths to build a stronger workforce for Lassa fever management in Nigeria.
We remain grateful to the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Health and all health workers who selflessly carry out their duties in protecting the health of Nigerians.
NCDC Toll-free Number: 0800-970000-10
Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu,
CEO, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control
Prof. Sylvanus Okogbenin,
Chief Medical Director,
Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH)