- Kills medical doctor in P/Harcourt
The dreaded Lassa fever, yesterday, claimed the life a medical doctor in the department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Braithwaite Memorial Specialist Hospital, BMSH, Port Harcourt, bringing the death toll from the dreaded disease to 44 across Nigeria.
The incident puts a lie to the assurance by the minister of health, Professor Isaac Adewole, who stated in Minna, Niger State on Wednesday, that the outbreak of Lassa fever in the country has been brought under control.
The minister, who also commended the Niger State government for being proactive in the handling of the outbreak of the disease in the state, acknowledged that the state was one of the 10 to have been affected by the disease.
The late medical doctor, Dr, Living Jamala, according to the Chairman of the Nigeria Medical Association, NMA in the state, Dr Furo Green, died after contacting the disease while attending to a patient at the hospital.
The NMA Chairman, who disclosed this to newsmen in Port Harcourt, said the medical doctor contracted the disease while treating patients at the Disease Control Unit in BMSH
He said: “To the doubting Thomases, Lassa fever is here with us. During epidemics like this mortality rates are usually very high. Our hardworking doctor in the department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Dr Living Jamala lost his life today through infection.”
The death of Dr Jamala brings to three, the number of Lassa fever victims since its outbreak in Rivers State in December, 2015.
Green also used the opportunity to announce the commencement of a three-day warning strike by the NMA, following the kidnap of two medical doctors in the state few days ago.
Meanwhile, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Theophilus Odagme has appealed to the striking medical doctors to call off the action urging for more time to allow security agencies to investigate and ensure the rescue of the victims.
Odagme, who made the appeal in a chat with newsmen, said the security agencies were working to rescue the two medical doctors.
“My appeal to doctors and other health care workers is that the kidnap of the two doctors should not make us down tools. I am in touch with the DSS, with the Commissioner of Police, the OC, anti-kidnapping squad and I can assure them that everything is being done.
“As I speak to you, the car of the doctor that was kidnapped on Tuesday morning has been recovered and that car is being moved to a place where it should be. Some suspects have been picked up and they are being interrogated. So, the security operatives are very active on this matter”, he stated.
It will be recalled that the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja recorded its first casualty as a victim who was brought to the National Hospital from Kubwa died barely 24 hours as a result of the virus. The Minister of Health directed that all primary and secondary contacts of the victim, including the staff of the private hospital in Kubwa, where the deceased was first managed for one week before referral to National Hospital, be tracked.
This development has ignited palpable fear among residents and concerns of the administration of FCT because Kubwa, a suburb of the FCT, is densely populated.
The minister who was in Minna, Niger State capital on surveillance and nationwide fact finding on the outbreak of Lassa fever told Niger state governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello that despite the high rate of fatality in the last few months, efforts by all stakeholders in the country have brought the scourge under control.
“A nationwide alert system is on to track the disease. Except for the case in Plateau, no person-to-person or hospital acquired infection has been recorded. So far things are under control but the state and local governments should put an alert system in place to enable us track new cases whenever it happens.
“Mr. Governor, I am happy that no new notification from Niger State since the last. We commend the state government proactive measures in handling the situation. Niger State is now on top of the situation,” the minister commended.
He however said that all hands should be on deck to sustain the current status by ensuring that his ministry is promptly notified of any strange death or disease, stressing that “every life counts and every death also counts”.
Adewole blamed the current outbreak on failure in communication and notification system in the country. He cited the case of Niger State where it took months of the outbreak before his ministry was notified.
The Niger State governor, who was represented by his deputy, Alhaji Ahmed Ketso called for incorporation of traditional healthcare healers into the national Primary Health Care delivery policy.
He said the need for their inclusion has become necessary being the first healthcare giver, the rural dwellers consult.
The governor commended the Federal government quick response to the suspected outbreak of Lassa fever in Fuka ward of Muyan Local Government Area of Niger State.
Earlier the Commissioner for Health and Health Services, Dr. Mustapha Jibril said despite the delay in notification and willingness of the people to give information, the government swung into action with federal government, World Health Organisation, WHO, and other relevant agencies to nip the disease in the bud.
The minister and his entourage later paid a fact finding visit to the affected community.