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Declare public health emergency on Lassa Fever – Group tells FG

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THE Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS) has urged the federal government to declare a public health emergency on Lassa Fever.

In a statement signed by its  president K. Mosto Onuoha, and sighted by The ICIR, the group revealed that there has been a total of 16,783 suspected cases and 1,047 reported deaths in Nigeria since 1969.

According to the science community, there has been a surge of recorded infections  between 1969 and 2007.

Lassa Fever was only present in two states – Borno and Plateau.

However, from 2008 to 2012, the disease spread to eight other states and from 2013 until 2019, at least 23 states in the country now report Lassa Fever cases annually.

The group also stated that of all suspected cases of lassa fever, 67 percent, amounting to 11,195, were recorded between 2016 and January 29, 2020.

It was reported also  that 60 per cent   of the 1,047 Lassa fever deaths, representing 632, occured in the same period.

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NAS identified the cause of the disease epidemic as an increase in human-rodent contact, attributing it to an explosive population of rodents generated by poor environmental sanitation.

The science academy advised FG to urgently inaugurate a committe in addition to declaring a state of emergency.

The committee is expected to comprise medical and veterinary specialists, epidemiologists, social scientists, media practitioners, and community representatives. 

It also solicited for more funds from the government to help set up a sensitive disease surveillance system.

In addition, it asked that each state, should establish a functional isolation ward for the treatment of Lassa Fever patients.

Seun Durojaiye is a journalist with International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).

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