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FG is committed to monitoring and diagonising Lassa Fever virus

Bukola Afeni
The Federal Government of Nigeria has emphasized its commitment to diagnosing Lassa Fever and also sequencing the virus genome to monitor the circulating Lassa viruses within the country.
The Minister of Health Dr Ehanire Osagie stated this while delivering his speech at the National Training Workshop on Case Management for Lassa Fever in Abuja.
The Minister said the commitment is evident through infection prevention and control measures among healthcare workers  (HCWs) to reduce rates of infection within healthcare facilities.
“The Federal Ministry of Health is committed to ensuring  decline in Case fatality rate (CFR) from the 2021 figure of 20.5% to 19.8% in 2022, which continues until Lassa fever ceases to become a public health threat in Nigeria.”
“The recent COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that we cannot afford to undermine any effort put into addressing and reducing high-risk viral pathogens like Lassa fever, as not only can they mutate and pose a new threat, but globalization can quickly lead to the spread of the disease to non-endemic countries.” He added.
He noted that over the last 5 years, the country has witnessed a large increase of confirmed cases of Lassa fever including healthcare worker infections.
“We need to build capacities to effectively manage such cases when they arise. Our commitment is also evident in our emphasis on infection prevention and control measures among healthcare workers (HCWs) to reduce rates of infection within healthcare facilities.”
“Now we want to build capacity in case management because we know that doing so will go a long way in reducing mortality in these patients. This training is part of the government’s effort to further reduce mortality from Lassa fever.” He added.
The  WHO Country Representative,  Dr Walter Mulombo noted that Lassa fever has been a serious problem in the country for the past 15 years.
“We are here to learn more on case management and control for the benefit of Nigerians, to reduce the rate of mortality of  Lassa fever patients, and also bring all health workers to speed on Lassa fever management with its drugs and timeliness of the case.”
“The workshop will address the issue of case management and the way people are being treated, and the medicine they are given and the timelines of the treatment and also expand best practices to the rest of Nigeria”.
The Chief Medical Director of Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH), Prof. Sylvanus Okogbenin noted that the institution is working effectively with the Federal Ministry of Health to address the Lassa Fever scourge in the country.
“This is part of our overall emergency preparedness to build critical manpower for the response to Lassa fever. We want to reduce mortality in Lassa Fever patients and build capacity for case management.” He added.
The Prof said that it is expected that all present will not only join in the case management but will be willing to join research efforts aimed at clinical trials for new therapeutic and vaccine products.

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