Lassa fever: ‘Don’t be a hero, protect yourself’ NMA warns healthcare professionals’

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The Nigerian Medical Association has called on all healthcare professionals across the country to exhibit a high index of suspicion following the continuous spread and fatality associated with the latest Lassa fever outbreak.

The outbreak which was triggered at the onset of the dry season has seen at least 29 people dead, including 2 doctors and a pregnant woman, across 15 states.

States mostly affected in the latest outbreak are Abia, Bauchi, Borno, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Enugu, Kaduna, Kano, Kogi, Ogun Ondo, Plateau, Rivers and Taraba.

Following the rapid spread and fatality index of the virus, the NMA wants medical personnel to in addition to basic infection prevention and control measures to take, ‘‘ extra precaution whenever a patient presents with the symptoms especially the ‘wet symptoms’; vomiting, diarrhoea and bleeding’’.

In a statement signed by its president, Dr Francis Faduyile, the NMA blamed the current spread of the infection on the abysmally low level of preparedness in handling infectious diseases especially viral hemorrhagic fever at all levels of healthcare delivery.

The medical body lamented that ‘the frequency of the outbreaks gives credence to the deplorable state of Nigeria’s healthcare system.

The NMA further warned its members to ensure appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) before attending to patients or suspected cases.

‘‘Healthcare practitioners should be cautious of the display of heroism especially in the absence of the basics required for care especially appropriate Personal Protective Equipment or in case of lack of the needed skill.

‘‘This is pivotal to prevent transmission or break the chain of transmission in the healthcare facility setting and prevent avoidable deaths’’.

The health body has also asked the government to prioritize capacity building for healthcare professionals on standard infection prevention and control measures to curtail hospital spread of the infection.

‘‘Ensure the provision of basic disinfectants and appropriate Personal Protective Equipment in healthcare facilities. We call on corporate organizations, NGOs and religious organizations to work with Government and the Nigerian Medical Association in intensifying ongoing public enlightenment campaign and ensure that all Nigerians are educated especially those at the rural communities on preventive strategies and prompt care-seeking’’.

 

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