Prof. Isaac Adewole, the minister of health, has explained why the war against a fast-spreading Lassa fever cannot be fought the same way the country tackled Ebola.
The Guardian reports that Adewole gave reasons while briefing state house correspondents at the presidential villa on Wednesday, January 20.
“We cannot win the battle against Lassa fever the same way we won the one against Ebola. Ebola happened to be a single importation to Nigeria. Lassa fever is endemic in Nigeria. In 2012, we had upsurge in 26 states. So, it is there but I can assure you that with what we put in place this year, we will sign it off,” he said.
The minister stressed that the federal government was determined to get to the root of the problem and find the solution. He revealed that the government was planning to put into place some innovative funding mechanisms to manage and put to use 10,000 primary health care centres across Nigeria over the next two years. He added that 110 of these centres will be flagged off in the next 100 days.
Speaking about the outbreak of Lassa fever, Adewole lamented what he described as the culture of silence permeating the society.
“There is also what we can consider to be culture of silence in some of our states. For example, we recognised Ebonyi state as one of the endemic states.
“And since the outbreak, Ebonyi has not recorded a single case or reported a single case. We despatched our surveillance team to Ebonyi and we discovered five cases.
“We are not having resurgence. What we had over the years is a situation which Lassa is endemic in Nigeria. And as I said on numerous occasions, we have these outbreaks. In 2012, we had the highest. We have 1700 case and that declined,” he said.
Adewole denied that cases of Lassa fever were hidden and stressed that the ministry was transparent.
“What has happened is that for the first time in the history of the country, we are being transparent and open and we are telling the entire world what the situation is and that is what is different,” he said.
Earlier this week, speaking at an emergency national council of health meeting Adewole warned Nigerians that “the Lassa fever disease is real” and confirmed that the virus spread to 17 states, affected 62 local government areas and 212 suspected cases within nine weeks.