From DAVID UKA, Abakaliki
EBONYI State government has declared a state of emergency in the state health sector following fresh outbreak of Lassa fever in the state.
The Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Prof Ben Odoh stated this at the end of an emergency meeting of a special committee set up by the governor to combat the rampaging disease in Abakaliki.
The epidemic has so far claimed three lives out of the five confirmed cases, according to the state government.
Also, the state has recorded 49 other suspected cases.
Prof Odoh said the State Government was building a Diagnostic Centre in the state to help in speedy response to cases.
“Before now samples were taken to Edo State for tests and but the governor has directed that we build a centre here at the Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki and work has already started on the building. In fact work is going on there day and night and it should be ready in three weeks time”, said Prof Odoh.
The SSG noted that a sub committee has been mandated to source and procure all the equipments needed to get the centre up and running immediately the building was completed.
“Another sub-Committee, headed by the State Commissioner for Environment has been set up to clear all refuse in the state to ensure that the rats which carry the lassa virus do not breed near residential areas”.
According to him, a media sub-committee has been set for the purpose of carrying out enlightenment campaigns to the people on the disease using various mass media and even the social media.
He re-stated the state government’s resolve to combat the disease and nip it in the bud in no distant time.
The Commissioner for Health, Dr Daniel Umeruruike said the three deaths recorded in the state were due to late presentation.
Umezurike said; “We have had 49 suspected cases successfully treated with the drug of choice Ribavirin because we have a strange presentation in Ebonyi State. Most of the patients have clinical diagnoses of Lassa Fever but when we do the investigation it comes out negative”.
“And the interesting thing is that when the drugs are started early they respond to the treatment”.
Some members of the Committee which is headed by the SSG are Commissioners for Health, Environment and Information as well as the Chief Medical Director of Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki (FETHA).
Meanwhile,, a corps member Ogboji Kelechi has been reported to have died in active service as a corp medical doctor after treating a patient with a case of lassa fever in Kaduna state.
The corps member who is from Amagu Ikwo in Ebonyi state is serving in Kaduna state.
The Director General of NYSC Brig Gen. JB Olawumi regreted the death of the corps member and called on corps members serving in all health institutions to always apply standard precautionary measures in the discharge of their duties.