The Minister of Health of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole has said that the Federal Government through its various Health Agencies responded promptly to the outbreak of Lassa fever in Ebonyi State following notification.
Professor Adewole in a press statement signed by his Media aide, Kazeem Akintunde, stated that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, (NCDC), an agency under the Federal Ministry of Health, saddled with such responsibility was in Ebonyi State 48 hours after the news broke in the media.
Adewole said that he also personally called the Chief Medical Director, of the Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki for detailed briefing after reading the news of the outbreak in national dailies. Quoting the minister:
‘We are here to assist states having challenges; it is the duty of the relevant state’s government officials to alert us promptly if there were health challenges in their state.
In the case of Ebonyi State, I was the one that called the CMD on phone, he did not call me. Again, the NCDC emergency team moved to Abakaliki 48 hours after we learnt of the outbreak.
‘What happens was that many of our doctors will start treating for Malaria Fever which is okay but after three days and there is no positive response to treatment, they should think Lassa fever. But they would wait endlessly before taking any prompt action.
‘I will always plead with state government officials to think Lassa fever first so that prompt treatment could be carried out as early as possible.
‘They should also embark on enlightenment campaign to educate their people on the danger of Lassa fever and how to guide against it.
‘I have also personally visited the state to see things for myself and to see what further measures we need to put in place to tackle the menace,
‘Once again, let me reiterate that the Federal Government is ready to support any state government that calls for our help. We need information on time to act promptly. We commiserate with those who lost their loved ones during this avoidable outbreak’ he stated.
The Honourable Minister also enjoined health workers to always obey universal precaution when handling all their patients and equipment as well as having high index of suspicion for every febrile illness.