By; MATTHEW UKACHUNWA, Lagos
Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCCD) has announced the end of the emergency phase of the 2019 Lassa fever outbreak.
The announcement was made following a joint epidemiological review by NCDC, the World Health Organisation (WHO Nigeria) and other partners.
As disclosed by the Centre, on 22nd of January 2019 it activated a National Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) to coordinate response activities.
“This was in response to an increase in Lassa fever cases in the beginning of the year,” NCDC explained.
It pointed out that 578 confirmed cases including 129 deaths were recorded from 21 States as at 26th of May 2019, since the beginning of outbreak.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Environment (FMEnv), Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) and partners coordinated by WHO Nigeria, the Centre stated, led response activities across the country.
Following lessons from the 2018 outbreak, NCDC response activities included improved preparedness through training of health workers across the country and communications campaign across the country.
It also adopted early deployment of One Health Response Teams to affected states and support for surge staff deployment.
The Centre set up new treatment centres in Kebbi, Benue and Kaduna and strengthened existing treatment centres.
It prepositioned medical and treatment supplies in all 21 States with confirmed cases in 2018.
In addition, NCDC improved collaboration with agricultural and environmental health stakeholders and introduced rodent control strategies.
Director-General of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, declared: “Given that Lassa fever is endemic in Nigeria, it is likely that the country will continue to record cases of Lassa fever.”
He assured that at NCDC they have several research strategies to improve their knowledge of the disease.
“We are also working with states and partners to establish more long-term strategies such as improved risk communication, infection prevention and control, regular environmental sanitation, enhanced capacity of health workers and improvement of treatment centres, among others,” the NCDC leader elaborated.