Yesterday 8th September 2016, a National Council on Health was held in Abuja. The Honourable Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, opened the meeting by highlighting key issues to be deliberated upon by the council which had in attendance leaders from the Federal Ministry of Health and associated MDAs, State Commissioners of Health, development partners and media representatives. Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu led the Nigeria Center for Disease Control team and also gave a presentation on current Lassa fever cases in the country and the NCDC’s response. The highlight of his presentation are below:
Establishment of Lassa Fever Working Group for coordination
Investigations ongoing in affected states
Supply of medicines and infection prevention control supplies to States
Strengthening of States’ capacities through training
Media coordination to minimize misinformation.
Development of Lassa fever advisory note.
Assessment of State preparedness.
RECOMMENDED STATE RESPONSIBILITIES: All states have been advised to implement the following as part of state level preparedness.
Strengthen State Disease Surveillance & Response Committee
Constitute/ reactivate State Rapid Response Teams
Prepare an Epidemic Preparedness and Response Plan
Strengthen capacity of health facilities to conduct surveillance
Identify health facility to serve as a treatment/isolation center
Train laboratory personnel working in treatment/isolation centers on safe sample collection & Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) use
Identify nearest designated Viral Haemorrhagic (VHF) Fever laboratory
Stockpile and pre-position anti-viral medications and PPEs
Provide telephone line(s) (preferred toll-free ) for public enquiries and notification of suspected VHF cases
Scale up public enlightenment on VHF
Establish budget line for disease surveillance and response ·
During his presentation, the NC/CEO shared some epidemiology data on Lassa fever in Nigeria see image below. The rise in suspected and confirmed cases between 2015 and 2016 which is partly associated to increasing awareness and reporting of Lassa fever amidst citizens. If states implement the recommendations above, it will go a long way in minimizing the burden of Lassa fever on Nigerians.
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