The Federal Government has announced a decline in number of new cases of Lassa fever in the country.
Chief Executive Officer, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, who disclosed this at a news conference in Abuja, said that the country had witnessed a reduction in the number of people who have died from the disease compared to 2018 adding that the NCDC and partners had continued to sustain response activities in states across the country, despite progress made so far.
He said, “An outbreak of Lassa fever was declared in Nigeria on Jan. 21, 2019. Since then, 420 confirmed cases and 93 deaths have been reported in 21 states.
The national, multi-sectoral, is coordinating the national response multi-partner Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) led by the NCDC. In addition, the centre has supported Ebonyi, Edo, Ondo, Plateau and Kebbi States in activating sub-national level EOCs for coordination.”
Ihekeazu noted that following the large Lassa fever outbreak in 2018; the NCDC together with partners instituted five key measures to ensure improved preparedness in 2019.
According to him, NCDC developed new case management guidelines, initiated a Lassa fever Research Consortium and hosted an International Conference on Lassa fever to share knowledge adding that the Centre also supported full availability of drugs, personal protective equipment, laboratory reagents and other supplies required for case management and diagnosis of Lassa fever.
He observed this year, there has been no single stock-out reported in any state.
“In January 2019, NCDC hosted the first Lassa fever International Conference. This brought together the largest gathering of researchers and professionals to discuss progress on Lassa fever.
“Importantly, Nigeria introduced her national Lassa fever research plan and has been recognised as one of the leading stakeholders in global Lassa fever research.
“Over the last six months, progress has been made in this area especially in discussions around Lassa fever vaccines. In the next one year, Nigeria is expected to be part of clinical trials towards the development of Lassa fever vaccines,” he said.
The CEO pointed out that the progress recorded in the response to the 2019 Lassa fever outbreak including an early decline in the number of new cases and reduced case fatality have been attributed to various factors.
“This includes the early deployment of One-Health national Rapid Response Teams (RRTs), improvement of functions in Lassa fever treatment centres, revision of case management guidelines, enforcement of environmental sanitation in some states.
“Introduction of the Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) ring strategy, targeted intensified risk communications activities, high level advocacy visits, operational research into response activities, amongst others,” Ihekweazu said.