Senate vows to treat Lassa Fever as national epidemic
The senate today at plenary resolved to tackle the spread of lassa fever currently wrecking havoc across the country.
In a motion jointly moved by Senator Clifford Ordia and Senator Lanre Tejuoso on the ‘Urgent need to support the centre for research, control and treatment of Lassa fever disease in Nigeria’, the senate decried the inadequate infrastructures in combating the disease. Nigeria currently has only one centre in Irua, Edo state, which is responsible to cater for victims of the disease.
Seconding the motion, Senator Emmanuel Paulker said there was the need for the lawmakers to call on the Health Ministry that the one center that caters to Lassa Fever must have all basic requirements.
According to Senator Atai Aidoko, the motion was timely because the Lassa Fever issue in Nigeria had been considered to be a national emergency. “There are cases all over the country in our hospitals. People are dying and yet, nothing major is being done.
“This Lassa Fever issue a national emergency that the nation needs to pay attention to… Immediate adequate funding must be given to the one center that exists to take care of this menace. Innocent people can become infected without knowing. The Lassa Fever has a 21 day gestation period. You could shake somebody’s hand, someone could sneeze and anyone can catch the disease. Something must be done,” he said.
Senator Matthew Urhoghide in his submission regretted that Nigeria had not still been able to effectively tackle the lassa fever issue even after about 40 years since the first outbreak of the disease was reported.
“When we have a total breakdown of the facilities of the centers that are able to treat Lassa Fever, then there is a problem. We must have a center for the treatment and management of the outbreak.
“For over 40 years we have been talking about tackling Lassa Fever. This shows the lackadaisical attitude of the Federal Ministry of Health to this issue. If the citizens of a country are not well, then that country is not well. This disease is going from Edo to Bayelsa, from there to Anambra… The Federal Government must be serious. Anyone can contact this viral infection.
“We need to go back to where this disease started from and treat it from there,” he said.
According to Senator James Mnager who also lent his voice to the motion; “When there is an outbreak and regular people are affected, I am alarmed. Now that medical practitioners and doctors are being also affected, I am very very worried.
“Nigeria is like a community. There are no boundaries. We must treat this Lassa Fever outbreak as a national emergency. We must be prepared from it. We need to decentralize the treatment centers.
“At the end of the day, we must protect the health of our people. Now that we are undergoing the budget process, we can show seriousness on this issue. Let the funding be provided to decentralize the treatment of such outbreaks,” he said.
In his remarks, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu who presided over plenary today said not being able to come up with a solution to curb the disease will ban abdication of responsibilities on the part of the lawmakers.
The senate further urged the Federal Government through the Ministry of Health to urgently provide the center all necessary equipment to enable it meet its responsibilities to Nigerians seeking medical care at the center; urged the Ministry of information and national orientation to engage in the sensitization and education of the public on the prevention, control and treatment of Lassa fever; and promised that the National Assembly will make sufficient for the additional funding and treatment for the disease.