February 28, 2024

FG launches National Deratisation Exercise to prevent, control spread of Lassa fever

FG launches National Deratisation Exercise to prevent, control spread of Lassa fever

By Favour Ulebor, Abuja

The Minister of State for Environment, Dr Iziaq Adekunle Salako, has launched the National Deratization Framework Exercise to prevent and control the spread of Lassa fever in the country.

The Minister, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Environment, Mahmud Adam Kambari, while briefing the press in Abuja, said, “I stand to provide an update on the recent outbreak of Lassa fever reported by 44 Army Reference Hospital in Kaduna State and subsequent spread of the disease in the state.”

He said the meeting with the State Emergency Response Team (SERT) provided the etiological pattern of the disease. 12 suspected cases were recorded with 6 deaths; 2 additional cases originated from another facility in Barau Dikko Hospital, while 92 persons are under surveillance as contact persons, adding that the team visited the affected facility (44 Army Reference Hospital) on February 25, 2024.

In his remarks, the Registrar, Environmental Health Council of Nigeria (EHCON), Dr Yakubu Baba Muhammad, reiterated that the Minister’s directives on all the facilities, whether public or private, should undergo derating exercise. He said places such as hotels, markets, restaurants, and recreation centres will be issued a derating exemption certificate by EHCON.

Dr Yakubu disclosed that the ministry has directed the Council to embark on massive capacity building to update the knowledge of the practitioners on innovations and new approaches to control and address the disease.

He added that components of health education, promotion, and creation of awareness in communities also play an important role. 

“At the community level, the issue of waste management cannot be overemphasized. At this time and period, remnant food should not be exposed, while our foodstuffs and stores should be rat-proof. In the character of rats, once there is no food, rats vacate the house,” he added. 

He further emphasised that another approach to combating the spread of this disease is by getting to the grassroots; it’s a collective responsibility as the government is doing its job and citizens should do their parts. 

He also said farmers using roads for drying farm products should be discouraged from doing so because this allows rats to come and urinate and defecate, passing faeces that contain the virus that causes disease and contamination of the food.