Lassa Fever Outbreak: Ebonyi Gov Doles out N5m to Equip S’East Virology Center

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Ebonyi State Governor, Chief Dave Umahi, on Tuesday released N5million for sourcing of medical experts to activate the Lassa fever virology centre at the Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki (FETHA) built by his administration and taken over by the federal government.

He also released the sum of N2million for contact tracing of Lassa fever virus which resurfaced in the state early this week, killing about three person.

The governor called on the people of the state to minimise handshaking, shun consumption of rats and keep their environment clean to avoid contracting the disease

The contact tracing is to commence in Ala Awusa in the state where the virus started, spread to Mater Miscordae Hospital, Afikpo and

Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki (FETHA).

Umahi who expressed sadness over the death of some health workers in the fresh outbreak of the disease, said he had summoned series of meetings to control the virus.

He regretted that since the federal government took over the N350million virology centre constructed by his administration, it has not been fully  functional.

“Since we handed over the Lassa fever centre to the federal government, they have not fully taken it over. It is not fully

functional. Also very annoying is that the committee we set up to build the place and equip it did not tell us that the supplier of the equipment has  not fully installed the equipment. Nobody told us and that is very bad.

“We have had several meetings since yesterday and today over this disease outbreak. We have agreed to release N5million to source experts from Lagos. I have also called the Minster of Health and he has sent expert also from Abuja. N5million is to activate the place fully and get experts to start training because we are committed to releasing more funds as the need arise. In our meeting with NMA and CMD, we agreed to release the sum of N2million for contact tracing to control the spread of the virus,” he said.

Meanwhile, Medical Doctors at FETHA yesterday urged the federal government to urgently equip the virology centre in  the hospital.

The state government constructed the N350million ultra modern virology centre in 2015 which was taken over by the federal government.

But the doctors in the state said the virology centre has not been equipped resulting to patients who show Lassa fever symptoms being referred to Irrua Specialist Hospital, Edo State for diagnosis and treatment.

There has been fresh outbreak of Lassa fever in the state which resulted to the death of two medical doctors; Felix Ali, Abel Udoh and a nurse while another doctor of the hospital is in critical condition in Irrua virology centre where he was receiving treatment.

 

The situation created panic and tension in the hospital as the doctors now go on mask.

Yesterday, the doctors wore black attires to mourn the death of Ali, Udoh and the nurse who died in the fresh Lassa fever outbreak.

 

They marched round major roads and street in the state before proceeding to government house where they were addressed by the Senior Special Adviser to Governor Umahi on Internal Security, Dr. Kenneth Ugbala.

The doctors had emergency meeting and came up with a communiqué before protesting the death of their colleagues.

 

While reading the communiqué to journalists in Abakaliki shortly after the emergency meeting, the state Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) Chairman, Dr. Ikwudinma Austin, called on the federal government to equip the Lassa fever virology centre in the state which it took over from the state government.

“Federal government should live up to their promises through the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, who in September 5, 2016 made the virology centre in Abakaliki a National Referral Centre by making it functional.

“The voting by the National Council on Health stepping down the acquisition of the virology Ccentre in Abakaliki as a National Referral Centre should be promptly reversed in the overriding interest of justice, equity and public health.

The management of Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki and other hospitals in the state should acknowledge the endemicity of Lassa fever in the state and promptly provide basic personnel protective equipment for safe health service delivery,” the communiqué stated.

It noted that between 2005 and 2018, the state has lost over 40 health workers to Lassa fever and uncountable number of deaths of other patients.

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