The Edo State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Patrick Okundia, has said the state has made modest progress in the war against the spread of Lassa Fever, noting that stringent measures have been taken by the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration to guide against the epidemic and other communicable diseases.
Speaking to journalists, the commissioner disclosed that apart from equipping the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital for diagnosis and prompt treatment, the state government is vigorously combatting the deadly disease through intensive enlightenment programmes.
Okundia, however, implored residents of the state to prioritise their personal hygiene and imbibe measures for effective preservation of their food to guard against diseases.
He said, “Lassa Fever is a national issue but as we are aware, the Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki has over the years prioritized the health of Edo people, investing so much in the sector to holistically revamp the state’s healthcare delivery system. The state in collaboration with the federal government has done lot of interventions in supplies to the health centre of excellence in Edo state, which is the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH).
“The ISTH, though a federal government institution, got the sum of N100 million from the state government to assist it in the fight against Lassa Fever. The state also procured life-saving equipment, ventilators and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) but beyond that we have realised that the Lassa Fever is a preventable communicable disease, hence our efforts at improving sensitisation and awareness has been geared up.
“Unfortunately, we know that from January to May of every year, this disease will come because of the dry nature of the weather and the bad habits of bush burning. This drives out the rats from the bush into our homes. This year, the state government ensured we started the campaigns before the dry seasons but the challenge is with those who pretend not to hear, who still do things their way despite warnings. But we are not relenting, we are winning the war through constant sensitisation and education.”
According to the health expert, “Fatality cases have drastically reduced, as ISTH is fully equipped for any emergencies; drugs are free, and tests for patients are also free. Efforts are ongoing but once we are all in the know and able to prevent this early enough, it’s not a killer disease. We have our surveillance team on the field at each local government also.”
“Already, the state governor has built a state-of-the-art emergency centre in Benin to handle Lassa Fever cases and every other emergency situation. We have seen our colleagues in the education sector speak of the EdoBEST programme, but it is encouraging to know that we have such technologies in the healthcare sector. Once any condition is discovered in the local government it is communicated to us through a phone-like tablet to a central server. This has made us manage the situations effectively,” he added.