212 suspected cases of Lassa Fever have been confirmed in 64 Local government areas across 17 states in the country, the Federal Government said on Monday.
The Minister of Health, Prof. Issac Adewole, who disclosed this yesterday in Abuja at the Emergency National Council on Health meeting with state Commissioners of Health and other stakeholders in the health sector, said the current out-break was a national embarrassment.
He, however, warned against a conspiracy of silence among the states of the federation.
While debunking the speculations in some quarters that the virus was a “gimmick to get money from the government”, the Health Minister said objective of the meeting, was to facilitate discussion on control of the ongoing disease outbreak; to develop strategies of prevention and management of all cases in Nigeria, among others.
He said: “There is a high level of denial and a conspiracy of silence in some of our states. I think people take delight in saying we have no case and to me that is not the issue.
“In fact, if you are able to pick a suspicious cases, to me that is the issue because that goes to tell us that the surveillance system is at work.
“We also want to alert all health professionals in the country that they should report any case. I have described the outbreak as a national embarrassment. We can manage embarrassment, but when we allow another outbreak to occur in August this year, it will become a national shame to all of us. One of the things we will do to prevent us from dragging this nation into shame is to stamp out Lassa Fever.
“Healthcare managers should not deceive their political leaders that all is well. All states should consider themselves at risk”.
Adewole noted that 17 states have so far been affected.
“It has affected 64 local governments across the country and we have been able to pick 212 suspected cases. It dates back from August last year, not just this year. It is better to over-count suspected cases than to under-count.
“The real hot spots are Niger, Bauchi, Taraba, Kano, Edo, Nasarawa, Plateau and Rivers, but for us to be honest with ourselves, all states should consider themselves at risk and please, put up measures to contain, prevent and reassure the community that we are on top of the situation”, he asserted.