Lassa Fever: FG To Address Emergencies
- Written by Oluwafemi Olowookere
In charting new ways to cope with Lassa fever in West Africa and defining the future of the disease globally, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control(NCDC) in collaboration with partners organized a two- day International Conference on Lassa fever. The Conference tagged “Lassa Fever @ 50; Rising to the challenge” was held from 16-17 January, 2019, in Abuja.
The Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, while declaring the conference open said that Nigerian Government remained committed to strengthening national health security as it was a vital component of achieving the Universal Health Coverage.
Dr. Ehanire said that in 2018, Nigeria experienced the largest occurrence of confirmed cases of Lassa fever despite the fact that the virus was discovered in Nigeria since fifty years ago. Since then, the Minister said “Nigeria has been making efforts to halt the outbreaks but it continued”
He informed that the health experts that converged at the Conference were to deliberate with a view of finding final solution to Lassa fever challenge in Africa.
Ehanire said, NCDC and other relevant Health sector development partners were conducting research on what was responsible for the continuous outbreak of Lassa fever in Nigeria.
“ I am glad that the Nigerian Centre for Diseases Control , together with our partners are taking this responsibility head on”, he said.
He narrated “we have developed a Lassa Fever research plan that is aligned with global research agenda, we shall invest more in training staff, acquiring necessary equipment, developing best protocols and embracing best practices that help us achieve results”
The Minister expressed optimism that the global effort would produce excellent result in near future that would translate to more tools for swift response, detection and prevention of Lassa Fever in Nigeria.
In his welcome remarks, the Chief Executive, Nigerian Centre for Diseases Control Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu commended the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari for providing support for the Centre to operate maximally.
He also applauded the partners, stakeholders and experts that travelled from different parts of the world to Nigeria to discuss the way forward as regards tackling Public Health emergencies.
He said NCDC would not relent in its effort to provide surveillance, prevention and control not only Lassa Fever but other health emergencies.
Also speaking, the Executive Governor, Nasarawa State, Alhaji, Tanko Almakura, who narrated his experience as a survivor of Lassa Fever Said that his experience did not stop him from working hard to achieve his dreams.
He considered himself the luckiest person, having suffered the burden of Lassa Fever but could forge ahead to become the Executive Governor of his state “as I am standing before you now I consider myself the luckiest person to survived the menace of Lassa Fever. I urged you all to rise up and face this challenge”.
He submitted that as a result of his experience on the Lassa fever disease, he was constructing a comprehensive Laboratory and Diagnostic Centre at lafia, Nasarawa State, which would be one of the Diagnostic centers in the country. The project, Al-Makura said, was 80 % completed. He pledged to collaborate with the NCDC to make the Centre of an international standard.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health Abdulaziz M. Mashi said that the Ministry would support the implementation of the outputs of the conference.