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Lassa Fever: NCDC registers 411 cases, 72 deaths in six weeks

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411 confirmed cases and 72 deaths have been reported to have been caused by Lassa fever across 21 states of the federation, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) has revealed.

The NCDC made this known via its official website on Thursday.

It stated that the number of new confirmed cases increased from 70 in week five to 83 in week six, with nine deaths recorded in week six, spanning Feb. 5 to Fed. 11.

According to NCDC, 65 percent of all the confirmed cases were from Ondo, Edo, and Bauchi states, while 35 per cent were reported from 17 states.

The agency said the number of suspected cases in 2024 (2,122) decreased when compared to the figure reported for the same period in 2023 (8,280).

It said the predominant age group affected by Lassa fever was 21-30 years, and two new health workers were affected in the reporting week.

The NCDC said the National Lassa fever multi-partner, multi-sectoral Incident Management System had been activated to coordinate response at all levels at the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC).

The agency also listed some of the challenges it faced in its fight against Lassa fever across the country to include late presentation of the cases and poor health-seeking behaviour due to the high cost of treatment and clinical management.

Other challenges, it said, were poor environmental sanitation and poor awareness observed in high-burden communities.

Lassa fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic (excessive bleeding) illness that is transmitted to humans through contact with food or household items contaminated by infected rodents or contaminated persons.

Its symptoms include fever, headache, sore throat, general body weakness, cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle pains, chest pain, and in severe cases, unexplainable bleeding from ears, eyes, nose, mouth, and other parts of the body.

Healthcare workers can be at risk of contracting the virus through exposure to patients’ bodily fluids.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), people can protect themselves from Lassa fever by taking several precautions.

The precautions include minimising exposure to rodents and their urine or faeces, sealing up holes or gaps in homes or buildings to prevent rodents from entering, washing hands frequently with soap and water, especially after touching potentially contaminated surfaces or objects.

They also include storing food in sealed containers and cooking it thoroughly, avoiding eating food that may have been contaminated by rodents.

If in contact with potentially infected individuals, the NCDC urges Nigerians to wear gloves, masks, goggles, and other protective equipment to prevent exposure to bodily fluids.

In areas where Lassa fever is endemic, people are advised to follow safe burial practices to minimise the risk of exposure to the virus from deceased individuals.

“If someone develops symptoms of Lassa fever, such as fever, headache, muscle aches, vomiting, or diarrhoea, they should seek medical attention promptly.

“Early diagnosis and treatment can improve outcomes and reduce the spread of the virus to others,” said NCDC.

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Health

UNICEF emphasises importance of polio vaccination to caregivers

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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has encouraged caregivers in Katsina, Kano and Jigawa States to present their eligible children for the next round of polio vaccination exercise.

Mr Michael Banda, the Officer-in-charge of UNICEF Kano Field Office, made the call in Kano at a media dialogue on the polio campaign on Friday.

The media dialogue was organised by UNICEF in collaboration with the Kano State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, with participants from the above-mentioned states.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the four-day polio vaccination exercise is scheduled to commence on April 20, across the three states.

According to the UNICEF Officer-in-charge of the Kano field office, the importance of the exercise cannot be overemphasised.

“As the data show, in Kano, Jigawa and Katsina, we have over 556,750 children who have not received one single dose of vaccination they should have received.

“These are referred to as zero-dose children. Such children inexorably are vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases, including poliomyelitis.

“This is unacceptable and must be tackled frontally. Not only is polio vaccination crucial, but all routine vaccinations are also critical to children’s survival.

“We must all work together to strengthen routine immunisation services and ensure that all children under five receive all vaccines, including the polio vaccine,” Banda said.

He added that, if all children got vaccinated and receive the vaccines they needed to receive, they would no longer be at risk of contracting polio, with attendant debilitating consequences.

He said that, rather they would have received the immunity which would protect them against vaccine-preventable diseases.

Banda emphasised that immunisation had been proven to be the most cost-effective protection against vaccine-preventable diseases.

“Let’s all work together, government, development partners, religious and traditional leaders, communities, NGOs, CSOs and the media, to ensure that every Nigerian child under five is vaccinated.

“This will protect them from not just polio, but all other vaccine-preventable diseases,” he appealed.

According to the UNICEF official, managing misinformation and vaccine hesitancy for Polio and overall vaccination is very crucial in Nigeria to stop the outbreak.

He stressed that the role of the media, including social media, was important in this aspect.

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Over 1,800 malnourished kids recovered in six months in Bauchi — CSOs

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Rauf Oyewole, Bauchi

The Coalition of Civil Society –Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria, Bauchi State Chapter has said that through its partnership with other implementing partners they have assisted over 1,800 malnourished children to recover from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM).

The Secretary of the Network, Dabis Mwalike while addressing journalists as part of the activities marking the 10th year anniversary of the network, said that it also engaged in preventive measures against malnutrition in the state.

According to her, during the implementation, 698 healthcare providers were trained across the 20 local government areas of Bauchi, 400 community-based volunteers were trained while 4,229 comprising 2,059 males and 2,170 females, children under five identified with SAM and 7,743 made of 3661males and 4082 females, children under five identified with Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM).

She added that 1,825 children under five identified with SAM and MAM recovered. While 202 PHCs established food banks.

She said that despite all the achievements, malnutrition remains a concern to public health and a threat to child survival, growth, and development in the country, and Bauchi State according to NNHS (2018) and NDHS (2018) the State stunting rate is 46 percent, wasting is 9.5 percent while underweight is 28.2 percent and overweight is 0.5 percent.

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Capacity training will reduce migration of health workers- NPHCDA

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The National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) says it is taking steps towards tackling migration of health workers through capacity training programmes.
Mr Julius Idoko, NPHCDA Coordinator in Cross River, said this at the opening of a five-day capacity training for 100 frontline healthcare workers in the state on Tuesday.
Idoko said that the training, a project of the Health Minister, Prof. Mohammad Pate, was aimed at improving the capacity of health workers and making migration out of the country less attractive.
”The rate at which health workers leave the country has become worrisome, this training is to build their capacities.
”This initiative is one of the steps we are taking to curb the continuous exodus of healthcare professionals from the country.
”If we continue to engage and improve the capacity of our health workers, there will be no reason for them to leave the country,” he said.
The cordinator said that the initiative targets to capture no fewer than 120,000 healthcare workers in public institutions across the country.
Also speaking, Dr Henry Ayuk, Cross River’s Commissioner for Health, described the training as ‘very important’ to the state following its peculiar challenges.
He said the training would strengthen the skills of healthcare workers and enhance their performances.
Ayuk said that the state government would equip no fewer then 450 primary health centres within the next one year to enhance healthcare delivery.
Dr Vivian Otu, Director-General, Cross Rivers Primary Healthcare Development Agency, commended NPHCDA for the initiative, describing it as timely and well-intended
He said thet those who benefited from the exercise would train others to ensure an active and efficient workforce.
The programme attracted participants from WHO, University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, President’s Malaria Initiative among others
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