The Nigeria Country Director of World Health Organisaton (WHO), Dr Wondi Alemu, has commended the Federal Government over improved response to outbreak of diseases in the country.
The country director made the commendation during the Emergency National Council of Health Meeting organised by Federal Ministry of Health on Monday, February 5, 2018 in Abuja.
Alemu said he observed a lot of changes in the last 14 months when he assumed office as country representative of WHO.
According to him, the changes are in terms of quick response and sharing of information with international communities and development partners within the country.
He said: “This is another laudable gesture by Federal Ministry of Health.
“I will also communicate to my colleagues that Nigeria is responding much better to disease outbreaks than it used to be in the past.”
He said that Lassa fever was not new but it was more tragic recently, adding that what made it more tragic was the passing away of health workers while attending to patients.
He noted that “this is something that should not happen, hence the need to increase awareness on the diseases, particularly on protecting health workers while delivering services.
“As health workers, you may be obliged not to observe the basic protective measures but that is risking our lives.
“Ultimately, it is about having basic equipment available at all times at the facility level. It should be part and parcel of the operations in healthcare delivery.
“We believe that next time this could be avoided particularly sacrificing our health workers due to the lack of basic equipment and protective kits.”
Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, said the meeting was summoned to discuss the state of public health challenges in Nigeria with focus on some challenges facing the nation in the past few weeks.
Adewole added that Lassa fever had been a current outbreak in the country, stressing that Nigeria had battled with series of outbreaks in the past few months.
He also urged state governments and other key stakeholders to work with Nigeria Centre of Disease Control to address outbreak of diseases.
The Niger State Commissioner for Health, Dr Mustapha Jibril, commended the Minister of Health for the timely meeting.
Jibril said the Niger State Government was able to do a lot to curtail disease outbreak ravaging the nation.
The commissioner added: “I am happy that Niger State is not among the states that have this challenge.
“In 2016, we had a challenge from Lassa fever where 16 people died and Niger was among the state’s worst hit by the outbreak then.”
However Niger State Government set up isolation centres, procured Hilux vehicles for the state’s epidemiological team and emergency operation centres with the entire gadget required to do the job.
According to him, the state has been collaborating with WHO to enhance the funding of disease surveillance and notification.
He, therefore, advised the state government to provide funding to district disease surveillance and notification officers to reduce the outbreak.
The commissioner said Niger had not recorded Lassa fever outbreak in 2017 and the state did not have any outbreak or any epidemic prone disease.
Dr Babatunde Ipaye, the Commissioner for Health in Ogun State, said Nigeria was at the receiving end because response to outbreak required collective efforts.
He said trading the blame was not the best way to go, and that public health response everywhere in Nigeria was important and equal.
He said Ogun did not record any case of Lassa fever in 2018 but that, in 2017, the state had three cases with one death.
According to Ipaye, Ogun State was in 2017 awarded the best state in Nigeria in terms of integrated disease surveillance and response by WHO and Federal Ministry of Health.
By Mustapha Yauri