Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
As confirmed cases of Lassa fever rises to 58, the Edo State Government, yesterday, called for the support of the World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other humanitarian aid organisations to boost the government’s emergency response against the spread of Lassa fever in the state.
The Edo State Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Mr. Chris Nehikhare, made the call while briefing journalists after the weekly Edo State Executive Council (EXCO) meeting that was chaired by Governor Godwin Obaseki, at the Government House, in Benin City.
Decrying the alarming rise in the number of confirmed cases of the disease across communities in the state, the commissioner said that several efforts by the state government to reach the federal government and the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, for their support to contain the disease and protect residents have not yielded any positive response.
He said: “As of today, we have 58 people infected with the disease with a five percent case fatality rate which is very high, even compared to COVID-19.
“The state government has tried everything within its power to tackle this outbreak which is prevalent in about 3 local governments but to no avail.
“With all pleas and entreaties to the federal government for intervention in this very challenging outbreak, it appears they apparently have been falling on deaf ears and this is particularly disheartening especially as the current Minister of Health is from Edo State. It seems that the Minister and the Federal Government are not interested in helping us fight this outbreak.”
The commissioner stated further: “As a government, we have written several letters to the Ministry of Health, the Center for Disease Control, and to all the people involved in health issues to come and intervene and fight this outbreak. Unfortunately, it seems the federal government has abandoned us.
“We are crying out to the international agencies to intervene quickly before the situation gets worse. We are constrained to reach out to international agencies such as the WHO, UNICEF, and any other international organisation with a mandate to intervene with infectious disease outbreak.”
Reassuring that the government has put in place facilities and mechanisms to expedite interventions to contain the disease, Nehikhare added: “We have a well-equipped isolation ward at the Stella Obasanjo Hospital that is very functional. Also, the Irrua Specialist Hospital is specifically built to handle this Lassa fever.”