The World Health Organisation (WHO) is scaling up response to the Lassa fever outbreaks in states across Nigeria to strengthen rapid containment of the disease. Dr. Peter Clement, WHO Officer in Charge (OIC) for Nigeria, stated that the WHO is mobilising experts to intervene in investigations, contact-tracing and risk communication.
According to a statement from the WHO, plans are underway to strengthen efforts to further assist Nigeria in controlling the Lassa fever outbreak.
Nigerian Medicals (NM) recalls that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had on January 21, 2019, declared an outbreak of Lassa fever following an increase in the number of cases. The NCDC had said that from January 1 -27 2019, a total of 213 confirmed cases including 41 deaths were reported from sixteen states (Edo, Ondo, Ebonyi, Bauchi, Plateau, Taraba, Gombe, Anambra, Kaduna, Kwara, FCT, Benue, Rivers, Nassarawa and Kogi States) across 40 Local Government Areas(LGA).
This, according to the NCDC, represented a significant increase in the number of cases reported compared to at the same period in 2018.
Meanwhile, the WHO has said that with the outbreak confirmed, it will intensify its technical assistance to State and Federal authorities in investigation and response to the outbreak.
Dr. Peter Clement said: “WHO reorganised its staff to provide assistance to each of the response pillars and directed field offices to assist in outbreak investigation, coordination and response activities at the state level. “WHO is supporting coordination, enhanced surveillance, contact tracing, and risk communication.
We are also mobilising experts to support case management and detailed epidemiological analysis to monitor situation in the affected states”.
The statement further revealed that through the polio infrastructure in the State field offices, WHO is also providing technical assistance and coordination of partners in the affected states.
In Edo State, one of the worst hit states, the Commissioner for Health, Dr. David Osifo, stated that “WHO continues to strengthen capacity of health workers, conduct disease surveillance as well as other control measures which include coordination of contact tracing on behalf of SMOH and engagement with communities”.