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Lassa Fever Outbreak: Senate Intervenes

Dec 16 2015

As Nigeria recorded its 41st death out of the 93 reported Lassa fever cases over the weekend, the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on Tuesday asked the federal government, health agencies and non-governmental organisations to carry out holistic and aggressive sensitization in affected states, markets, restaurants, schools and other public places on preventive measures.

This was in response to a motion sponsored by Senator Lanre Tejuoso chairman, Senate Committee on Health as the Senate also condoled with the bereaved families and urged Nigerians to adhere to rules on personal hygiene as well as report cases of persistent high fever to the nearest health centre.

Senator Tejuoso in the lead debate noted that 20 lives had been lost in 2014 to this acute viral hemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus which broke out in 1969 in the town of Lassa, in Borno State, Nigeria and nothing concrete had been done to impede any further outbreak of the disease, citing that health and corporate agencies in Nigeria, emphasize on awareness creation only after new cases appear.

Senator Tejuoso also expressed concern that if nothing urgent was presently done to curtail further outbreak and spread of the disease, it would escalate to alarming proportion that could lead to declaration of national emergency.

He also recommended the free distribution of rat poison, saying the level of poverty in the country would not allow the citizenry to purchase the substance, but the proposal failed.

Commending the Committee on Health, Senate President, Olubukola Saraki stated that it was important for the Federal Ministry of Health to come up with a sustainable strategy to curb the ongoing outbreak as well as work to ensure that such outbreaks of preventable diseases do not occur again at least in the nearest future.

Saraki asked the Federal Ministry of Health to provide adequate funds for the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). “The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) should coordinate all responses to ensure compliance,” Saraki said, while also tasking the Senate Committee on Health to follow up the Senate resolutions on the matter through proper oversight functions.

Meanwhile the Senate also invited the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, to brief it over the outbreak of the disease that had thus been recorded in 10 states of the federation. It also observed a minute silence in honour of the deceased.

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