Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole yesterday assured Nigerians that Lassa fever would be eradicated by the end of this year.
The minister gave the assurance while speaking to State House correspondents after President Muhammadu Buhari signed the updated Abuja commitment on polio eradication.
“We inaugurated a Lassa fever eradication committee chaired by one of the foremost virologists in this country and we are committed to signing the obituary of the Lassa fever this year.”
The minister said the disease had been existing in the country with 1700 recorded in 2012 and 441 cases last year, but such had not been publicly acknowledged.
He said the government had decided to be transparent about the disease by telling the world the true situation.
On whether there were hidden cases, the minister said “not that they were hidden but they were never brought to public knowledge. 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 case. We despatched our surveillance team to Ebonyi and we discovered five cases.”
On whether Ebola got priority attention because it was elitist, Adewole said “that is not completely true. 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.”
The minister added that new primary health care would be opened across the country to deal with the dreaded Lassa fever.
“What we want to do is put across some innovative funding mechanisms, ability to manage and put to use 10,000 primary health care centres across the country over the next two years. In the next 100 days, we will flag off 110 of these centres. We will start with the one in Fuka where we had this outbreak. We will do one per senatorial district, 109 to make 110 in 100 days. This year alone, we will do 5000,” he said.

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