Why Nigeria Still Battles Lassa Fever 50 Years After
Lassa Fever has continued to claim lives in Nigeria even 50 years after it was first discovered in the oil-rich nation.
This has become a source of concern for many Nigerians who believe that the nation had what was required for the health sector to perform in its optimum level.
Kicking out Lassa Fever has become a tough task and the Chairman, National Lassa Fever Steering Committee in Nigeria, Professor Oyewole Tomori, knows a few things that could be done to address the challenge.
He suggests a change of attitude and believes that it will help address the increase in the number of people killed by the disease.
Tomori said that Nigeria needed to move away from external funding of laboratories.
"Whatever laboratories we have now are being funded by external sources.
"We need to change our attitude, Nigeria has to improve from that and fund our laboratories,” he told a gathering of individuals in Abuja on Thursday, who were participants of a two-day Lassa fever International conference with the theme: “50 years of Lassa Fever: Rising to the Challenge”.
He further expressed optimism that soon a vaccine for Lassa Fever would be developed in Nigeria.
Also at the conference was the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, and he also addressed the conference.
Dr. Ihekweazu said the the Federal Government would intensify efforts to control Lassa Fever in the country.
He said the conference marked 50-year of the discovery of Lassa Fever in Nigeria and highlighted that the conference was aimed at combining efforts to eradicate the disease.
He said the conference was also aimed at sharing the knowledge gained over years.
”The point of this conference is to bring together everyone working on Lassa, researchers from Nigeria and across the world.
”Both researchers working on vaccines, on new drugs, on social science to share knowledge, share information. So, collectively, we can pull that knowledge and start moving towards elimination.
”Elimination is not a magic bullet. It is a collective outcome of the work that you see being presented at this conference today,” ihekweazu said.
He also said that Nigeria experienced an upsurge of Lassa Fever in 2018, which he described as unfortunate.
He added that Nigeria was, however, rising to the challenge of Lassa fever control.
In his contribution, Dr Faisal Shuaib, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, said that inter agency collaboration would help curb disease outbreaks in Nigeria.
Shuaib said the conference was an amazing opportunity to build on the successes that was recorded in the disease control in the country.
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