Senator representing Edo South, Matthew Urhoghide has blamed the continuous spread of Lassa fever on nonchalant attitude of government agencies.
The senator in an interview in Abuja on Tuesday said that the manner with which Lassa outbreak had been handled over the years was discouraging.
He expressed sadness that Lassa fever which killed the wife of his friend over 10 years ago, was still a challenge in Nigeria even though it could be prevented.
Orhoghide said that the outbreak of the disease should have been handled the same way Ebola was handled, stressing that public awareness on Lassa was still at its lowest ebb.
“The issue of Lassa fever in Nigeria is not new; it has been on. It is the lackadaisical attitude of all concerned agencies in this country. There is really nothing serious they are doing. You could see the alacrity with which they handled Ebola.
“Everybody was on his toes in Nigeria to tackle the attack of Ebola but here, the awareness is not even there.
“Personal hygiene is important in the case of Lassa fever as well. The basic hygiene that people were carrying out then by using sanitisers is no longer there.
“Of course the ministry officials are having activities here and there but not comparable to the public awareness that was there during Ebola, everybody was up and doing,” he said.
The lawmaker decried that people were no longer careful, particularly the rural populace who still spread food items where Lassa-carrying rodents could contaminate.
The senator added that the federal government was not doing enough in the area of funding, as there were no adequate facilities while the existing ones were not well equipped.
“Some of the equipment we need to fight the Lassa outbreak is still very much lacking, particularly in the Specialist Teaching Hospital in Irrua (Edo State).
“It is one of the centres for rehabilitation and of course the hospital too is very profound in the activities as far as Lassa fever is concerned over the years.
“Even the Chief Medical Director on television was saying that they do not have enough dialysers to cope with patients that are being rehabilitated in the hospital,” he said.
He stressed that the 2016 budget should indeed reflect government willingness to invest in the health sector and curb such outbreaks through readiness.
At a recent chat with the Senate, the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole blamed the spread on ignorance of a village in Niger State, where the outbreak claimed some lives.
Adewole also blamed the persistence of Lassa fever on previous governments that did not fund a roadmap developed in 2012 to forestall future outbreaks.
He told the Senate that the ministry would come up with an inter-agency collaboration to fight Lassa to a standstill.
Meanwhile, as at the time of filing this report, over 70 people have been confirmed dead and over 200 cases being treated while many others are undergoing close observation.

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