FMC Umuahia Places 30 Persons under Surveillance as Lassa Kills Doctor

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PDP: Hold FG, APC accountable for doctor’s death
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja and 
Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
No fewer than 30 persons have been placed on surveillance following the death of a medical doctor who was said to have contacted Lassa fever in Abia State.

The Medical Director of FMC Umuahia, Dr Abali Chuku, made this known yesterday at a joint press conference with the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. John Ahukanna, during which they did not only confirm the ugly incident but promise that it would be contained.

Dr Chizorom Ndukwu, a resident doctor who was barely a month in the employment of FMC, Umuahia, reportedly died at the weekend at the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Irrua, Edo State, where she was taken for treatment after she was diagnosed of Lassa fever.

“The management of Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia, regrets to announce the death of its staff. She died of Lassa fever,” Chuku confirmed, adding that the deceased was initially admitted at FMC in the course of her illness.
He said the need to place dozens of persons on surveillance arose the fact that some members of staff of the medical facility “came in contact with her (the deceased) in the course of her management.”

However, the MD explained that not every person under surveillance has the same level of risk.
“Every possible contact whether patient or person will be identified, defined and put on surveillance,” he added.
Though every doubt about the cause of the death of the resident doctor has been cleared, the management of FMC Umuahia has not been able to trace the contact point where the deceased contracted the virus.

The MD said an 11-month-old baby was brought from a private hospital on March 12 and died the following day after admission at FMC, adding that the death of the baby was being investigated. The baby was said to have been treated by the deceased doctor.

He said the patient was referred by a pediatrician from a private hospital but the baby was not tested for Lassa virus before she died. But he noted that it was yet not possible to pinpoint if the baby was the source of the Lassa virus that killed Ndukwu as nobody has manifested any signs of the virus after 21 days incubation period which ended yesterday starting from the day the baby died.

“We are not looking at one direction so that you don’t put people’s lives at risk,” he said, adding that medical doctors offer their services across various health facilities and not all hospitals fully observe the standard protocol on disease control hence “we may not get to know where the deceased doctor contracted the virus.”

Meanwhile, a team of experts from the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control has visited the FMC Umuahia, investigated and provide supported to ensure that the disease is contained.
The FMC MD promised that the management of the federal health facility has taken every measure to contain the virus, noting that the protocol developed by the NCDC for the containment of Lassa fever was being fully implemented at FMC Umuahia.

In his remarks, the state health commissioner, Ahukanna said it was regrettable that Lassa fever has claimed a life in Abia state after all efforts to keep the dreaded virus at bay.
He said though the apprehension which the outbreak of Lassa fever has created in the state was understandable, “there is no reason to panic” as both the state ministry of health and NCDC have taken measures to contain the disease.
Ahukanna advised that everyone in Abia State should “take concrete steps” by maintaining high level of personal and environmental hygiene and also keep rats at bay to ensure that the outbreak of Lassa fever did “not go beyond what we already have.”

Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has asked Nigerians to hold President Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC) federal government responsible for the avoidable and painful death of Chizaram.
The party said the promising and patriotic medical practitioner had to pay the supreme price over avoidable exposure to Lassa fever, because of the low premium the APC administration places on the lives of Nigerians and the health sector in particular.

The PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola
Ologbondiyan, yesterday, described the failure of the APC federal government to provide medical personnel with the requisite equipment and facilities to effectively and safely discharge their duties as absolutely wicked, inhuman and the height of insensitivity.

While we are deeply pained by this tragedy, we are very worried about the safety of our health personnel in federal government’s health facilities following the established lack-lustre approach of the APC administration to health issues in Nigeria.
“It is indeed very sad that instead of addressing these health and sundry issues, APC leaders are frittering away our commonwealth on medical tourism in Europe while our hospitals had, in the last three years, sunk from the famed height attained under the PDP to mere consulting centres.

PDP demands an unreserved apology from the APC and the federal government to the family of this doctor and the medical sector ingeneral and urge them to come dzwn from their high horse and take a cue from the PDP administration, in our effective handling of health challenges, particularly the Ebola outbreak and suppression of polio, among others.
“The PDP commiserates with the family of DChizaram as well as the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) over this sad loss.”