By Ifeoma Ofurum
Chairman of the Association of the General and Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria in Imo State, Prof. Dr. Philip Njemanze, has said that Lassa fever is spreading fast in Nigeria because the Federal Government has not adopted the same strategy it used to check Ebola.
Dr. Njemanze made the observation in Owerri in an interview with Christian Voice.
He called on the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, to ensure that all Federal Medical Centres (FMCs) were fully functional and prepared to deal with reported cases.
The renowned medical practitioner and academician urged the Imo State Government to order an immediate opening of all government hospitals and primary health care centres in the state and also create isolation centres as part of the proactive measures against Lassa fever.
According to him, Imo State needs a reporting and collection centre where the precautionary measures and materials will be available for the patients, adding that facilities in FMC and Umuguma Specialist Hospital are usually reserved for such treatment.
“This is not a time to experiment on a health system management in Imo or elsewhere because further closure of these hospitals constitute danger to public safety,” he said.
Lassa fever, according to him, is a contagious disease caused by a virus which is spread through rodents and dirty environments that facilitate the breeding of rats.
He, however, summarize the signs as TRASH, which means high Temperature or fever, Rashes that appear on the skin, Aches at the head and joints and Sever Hemorrhage which is bleeding from the nostrils, mouth and other normal body openings.
He, therefore, charged private hospitals to remain open and on a high alert for Lassa fever cases, while charging the public to be vigilant, as the first respondents to any case of illness are the relatives or ordinary people. He noted that very strict precautions should be taken when nursing someone sick of an unknown disease, adding that hand gloves and disposable clothing should be used to prevent contact with body fluids of the patient at home and in the hospitals.
He further warned the public to always rush any sick person to nearby hospital and ensure that they explained every situation to the doctors and nurses to enable them protect themselves instead of going to the church or crusade for miracles. These patients, he said will be taken to isolation centres where anti Virus agents provided by government will cure them.
He, however, said that if the patients are treated in time, they will recover and charged the public to keep their environment clean, protect their edible and stop indiscriminate dumping of refuse in their compounds while charging the state government to provide a proper refuse disposable system and ensure that gutters are kept open and are regularly cleaned up to drive away rats.