NCDC Declares National Emergency on Lassa Fever

NCDC Declares National Emergency on Lassa Fever

244 confirmed cases, 37 deaths recorded

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC)  has activated Lassa Fever Emergency Operations Centre to strengthen the response to rising cases of  the disease  in Nigeria

In a statement signed by its  Director General(DG), Dr. Ifedayo Adetiba  yesterday , NCDC said that it had activated the national multisectoral

Emergency Operations Centre for Lassa Fever (LF-EOC) at level 2 to coordinate and strengthen ongoing response activities in the country.

The DG said situation report of 22nd January 2023, showed a total of 244 confirmed cases with 37 deaths and a case fatality rate of 15.1 per cent  from 16 states and the FCT.

The states are: Ondo (90), Edo (89), Bauchi (13), Taraba (10), Benue (9), Ebonyi (9), Nasarawa (7), Plateau (5), Kogi (4), Anambra (2), Delta (1), Oyo (1), Adamawa (1), Enugu (1), Imo (1), and FCT (1).

He said that infection and death among the healthcare workers accounted for 5 and 1 of the of the confirmed cases and deaths respectively highlighting the need for an increased index  of suspicion among healthcare workers.

Adetiba said the LF-EOC was activated following a risk assessment carried out on the 20th of January 2023 by subject matter experts from the NCDC, relevant Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs), stakeholders and major partners.

According to Adetiba, the outcome of the risk assessment placed the country at a very high risk of increased Lassa fever transmission due to an unprecedented upward trend in the number of confirmed cases being reported compared to previous years.

He said the alert became necessary due to increased number of states reporting cases in comparison to previous years and increased risk of healthcare worker infections and deaths due to Lassa fever infection

He explained that the purpose of EOC activation is to achieve a coordinated national response and especially across the affected states to interrupt disease transmission, reduce the impact of the disease by reducing suffering and death (morbidity and mortality), and other socioeconomic complications of this disease.

“Healthcare is a collective responsibility of communities and governments at all levels. While the NCDC

is mandated to lead the prevention, emergency preparedness, and response to public health emergencies, we rely on the cooperation and support of states in the development and implementation of evidence-driven outbreak response plans for their territories.

Adetiba said that prior to the activation of EOC, the Nigerian government through NCDC’s multisectoral Lassa Fever Technical Working Group (TWG) had put the following measures in place to respond to the rising cases of Lassa fever.

These measures include, repositioning of medicines and commodities to support Lassa fever response management, the deployment of national rapid response teams (NRRT) to hotspot states to support contact tracing, case management, risk communication and community engagement, among others and development of a national Incident Action Plan (IAP) to ensure coordinated response at all levels.

In addition, NCDC plans to deploy of Surge staff for Lassa fever case management to high-burden states.

“Ahead of the projected rise of Lassa fever cases and as the country began to witness a rise in cases in the last week on November 2022, the NCDC prepositioned supplies for case management, infection prevention and control, laboratory diagnosis, etc. in all historical Lassa fever hotspots in the country.

“This was complemented by correspondence sent to the Honourable Commissioners of Health, the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, State Ministries of Health, and respective professional bodies of healthcare workers to alert and sensitize them on the situation as well as to advocate for in-State activities to respond to Lassa fever,” he said.

Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic fever (VHF) caused by the Lassa virus.

The natural reservoir for the virus is the Mastomys natalensis rodent (commonly known as the multimammate rat or the African rat). Other rodents can also be carriers of the virus.

The virus spreads through: direct contact with urine, faeces, saliva, or blood of infected rats.

New NYSC DG Promises  to Take Scheme to Greater Heights

Oghenevwede Ohwovoriole in Abuja

The new Director General (DG) of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC),  Brig. Gen. Yeshua Ahmed, has promised to take the scheme to a greater height.

He made the promise yesterday at the NYSC Headquarters in Abuja after taking over from the acting DG Mrs. Christy Uba as the 22 DG of the scheme.

Speaking after receiving the NYSC flag from Uba,  Ahmed stated that collectively he and the management staff would take the scheme to greater heights.

“I assure you that I will not only sustain the high tempo but collectively, we will take the Scheme to greater heights. In this regard, the policy trust that will drive the administration will focus on: improving  security,  welfare of corps members and staff to engender optimal service delivery to the nation;providing enabling environment for research  and development for the advancement of the scheme,” he stated.

Speaking further, the DG said strengthening stakeholders’ engagement for the promotion of the frontiers of the scheme, enhancement of capacity building to stimulate efficiency and higher corporate performance; and depending the impact of the Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) Programme, would also engage his attention.

Ahmed also used the opportunity to call for the full cooperation of the management and staff to enable him carry the scheme to greater heights.

“I therefore, solicit for the cooperation of all members of staff and our stakeholders to enable us move the scheme to higher level of achievements,” he added.

He assured the public of the scheme’s continued contributions to national development.

“Meanwhile, let me assure the general public that the NYSC will always make the country proud.  Our participation in all national assignments will be exemplary.

“I  am taking over the administration of the NYSC at a very unique time in history as the scheme will be 50 years old in few months to come,” he added.

Earlier in her speech,  Uba promised the new DG of her cooperation, loyalty and support of the management team.

She said that it was gratifying to note that the new DG was in a familiar terrain having served as Military Assistant to a former DG of the scheme.

 “I am confident that the experience gained in your previous assignment here, and the cordial relationship already established with members of staff, will facilitate your success as you steer the affairs of this noble organisation.

“May I also use this opportunity to assure you that the management team and the entire staff will give you all the necessary cooperation to enable you succeed. We are conscious of the tasking nature of the NYSC operations,” she added.

She noted  that the experiences, loyalty and love of the staff for the job will always be brought to bear in surmounting challenges as well as ensuring success in all undertakings.

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