We’ll Eradicate Lassa Fever By April – Health Minister

The Federal Government has declared that by April this year, Lassa fever will “become history.”



The government, which expressed optimism that the disease would be eradicated in April, also confirmed that it had placed the family that was visited by a victim in the Kubwa community of Abuja and an official of the Kubwa hospital, where he was treated, under surveillance.



The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, said this in an interview with The PUNCH in Abuja, on Wednesday.

According to him, no patient would be allowed to visit the hospital where the victim had been admitted before he was taken to the National Hospital, Abuja, because efforts were afoot to sanitise the hospital.



The victim, a newly-wed 33-year-old man, lived in Jos, Plateau State, but came to see a family member in Kubwa because of his illness.



He, however, died within 24 hours of being admitted into the National Hospital from the Kubwa-based hospital.



The minister said, “We want to assure Nigerians that Lassa fever will soon become a thing of the past. It will become history in Nigeria. Ordinarily, Lassa fever will be eradicated from Nigeria in April. But if we do nothing, it will come back by August. So, we will make sure that we work all-year round to make sure that there is no resurgence in August.


“Our target is to eradicate it in April. Even if we have one or two cases, we will treat them early because all our antennae will be out to treat any case,” he stated.



Adewole added, “Not just the families that the patient visited in Kubwa but also those who treated him (have been placed under surveillance). We are working on that, we don’t want to frighten anybody. But I can assure you that our officials are all over the place to make sure that we place them under surveillance. It is all in their interest, not that we want to frighten them.”



Asked if there were plans to shut down the whole of the hospital, the minister said, “When you say shut down, we don’t want to physically shut down the place. But when the hospital is under surveillance, no patient will be allowed to go there until we declare the place safe and that is the situation in the Kubwa hospital.”



The minister added that the ward in the National Hospital where the patient was admitted and the mortuary where he was kept had also been decontaminated.



Meanwhile, the authorities of the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital Complex, Ile-Ife, said on Wednesday that a laboratory test had confirmed that a resident doctor of the hospital had died of Lassa fever.



The chairman of a committee set up by the OAUTHC on Lassa fever, Prof. Adedeji Onayade, said this while speaking to one of our correspondents on the telephone.



He said the result of the first test carried out on the deceased tested positive.



Onayade said, “We have a report which was positive. We were supposed to do two tests but the patient was dying when we took the first sample. We can’t do the second test now. So, we can say it is 50 per cent but we are going ahead to take necessary steps. We have informed all those who should know.



“There is no need to panic, Lassa fever is treatable and we are set to ensure that the situation is contained effectively.”



He said the hospital was on top of the situation, stressing that there was no need for anybody to panic.