FG inaugurates Lassa Fever Rapid Response Committee

Channels Television  
Updated February 24, 2012

Nigeria’s Federal Government has set up a committee tasked with the duty of initiating measures to prevent and control the deadly Lassa Fever diseases that in recent times spread through 12 states, killing at least 40 people.

According to media reports, the FG in Abuja on Thursday inaugurated a 23-member Lassa Fever Rapid Response Committee with representatives from government agencies and development partners.

The committee, which was inaugurated by the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Muhammad Pate, will be chaired by Professor Sunday Omilabu of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, while Dr. Henry Akpan of the Federal Ministry of Health will serve as the committee’s secretary.

There has been an outbreak of Lassa fever reported in Borno, Gombe, Yobe, Plateau, Nassarawa, Ebonyi, Edo, Ondo, Rivers, Anambra, Lagos and Taraba States in recent months.

According to the World Health Organisation, the Lassa viral haemorrhagic fever, an acute illness with a 1-4 week duration, occurs most frequently in West African countries.

Recent studies indicate that there are 300,000 to 500,000 reported cases of Lassa Fever in West Africa, and some 5,000 lives lost to it.

Concerned by the huge danger posed by the quick spread of the deadly disease in Nigeria, Pate said the Federal Government has taken decisive action.

He said, “It is our resolve to do everything possible not only to control Lassa fever epidemic but to put in place mechanism for it effective prevention. It is in the light of this National Lassa Fever Rapid Response that the committee is being inaugurated.”

The minister assured that the committee will provide technical expertise on how to nip the spread of the disease and also institute a standard of treatment protocol and guidelines for managing the disease.

The Lassa Fever Rapid Response Committee is also tasked with the development of standard operating procedures on infection control in hospitals and disbursing resources for prevention and control activities.