NMA urges FG to quickly commission virology centres
In a bid to stop the high mortality and morbidity of Lassa fever and other infectious epidemic diseases in the country, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has called on the National Assembly to pass the bill establishing the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) as a matter of urgency.
This it said would position the agency for optimum performance and ensure its funding for results. NMA President, Dr. Mike Ogirima, in a statement, yesterday, said the association considers it unacceptable that every suspected case of Lassa fever is transferred to the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital in Edo State by road in poorly equipped ambulance. He called on the Federal Government to ensure that the long overdue virology centres to be supported with public health reference laboratories are commissioned in the six geo-political zones of the country without further delay.
The Association also tasked the pharmaceutical and laboratory reagent companies to develop rapid test kits that would assist in early detection of these highly fatal diseases to curb the outbreaks.
Ogirima said the NMA is offering to institute massive nation-wide public health campaigns to reawaken the consciousness of good personal and environmental hygiene to sensitize the people while appealing to local governmental authorities to revitalise environmental health activities aimed eradicating rodents and other vectors of human diseases in our country.
He said the NMA holds the belief that effective implementation of evidence based infection prevention and control measures through adequate funding of institutions and programmes, supportive supervision, effective oversight and leadership, Nigeria would celebrate the death of Lassa fever and others as it did for Ebola this year before the diamond anniversary of the discovery of Lassa fever in Lassa town by 2019.
Ogirima said: “The absence of reliable laboratory diagnostic facilities (except the ones in Irrua Hospital in Edo state, Lagos University Teaching Hospital/LUTH Idi Araba and Gaduwa Abuja), some cultural practices displayed by relatives of the Lassa fever patients such as unsafe corpse handling and poor personal and environmental hygiene are strong factors promoting the spread of the disease.’’
“The general poor sanitation and poor waste management across the cities and rural Nigeria encourages the multiplication of the vector rats, and their contact with human beings and food. Housing conditions, water supply, food safety and (primary) health care services in general have not improved from their appalling status for most citizens even as there is yet no vaccine for the Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers/VHFs (except Yellow fever).”
On how to prevent the disease, the NMA President said: “prevention of Lassa fever relies on promoting good ‘community hygiene’ to discourage rodents from entering homes, yellow fever on prevention of mosquito bites, cholera on drinking and eating safe water and uncontaminated food accordingly. Therefore, improved hygiene especially hand hygiene and food safety are key to staying healthy and alive.
“In health-care settings, staff should always apply standard infection prevention and control precautions (universal protection) when caring for patients, regardless of their presumed diagnosis. ‘’