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We are aware of Lassa Fever outbreak in Kaduna State – NCDC boss

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Dr Jide Idris, Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC), has officially acknowledged the outbreak of Lassa fever in Kaduna State.

Speaking to newsmen on Friday in Abuja, Idris confirmed that the NCDC was closely monitoring the situation and working in collaboration with state health authorities to contain the spread of the disease.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NCDC) reports that 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 body openings.

Idris said “the NCDC was notified yesterday by the Kaduna State Ministry of Health of the report of deaths from suspected viral hemorrhagic fever at the 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital in Kaduna.

“Following this notification, the centre has been working with both institutions to conduct comprehensive investigation of the suspected cases, as well as ramp up response activities.

“Four of the six blood samples from suspected cases sent to the Bayero University Teaching Hospital in Kano have been confirmed for Lassa fever. Furthermore, twenty-five close contacts of all these cases are now under follow-up and placed on prophylactic medicine.

“The state’s Ministry of Health has also activated the Incident Management System with all the response pillars including intensified risk communication and community engagement for the prevention and control of Lassa fever in the affected communities.”

According to him, the NCDC has dispatched rapid response teams to the affected areas in Kaduna State to conduct epidemiological investigations and implement necessary control measures.

He emphasised the importance of early detection, prompt treatment, and community engagement in curbing the spread of the disease.

“Lassa fever is a viral hemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus, which is transmitted to humans through contact with food or household items contaminated with rodent urine or faeces.

“The disease is endemic in Nigeria, with sporadic outbreaks occurring primarily during the dry season,” he said.

He urged healthcare workers and the public to maintain strict hygiene practices, including proper food storage and disposal of waste, to reduce the risk of Lassa fever transmission.

He also advised individuals experiencing symptoms such as fever, headache, sore throat, and muscle aches to seek medical attention immediately, as early diagnosis and treatment can significantly improve outcomes.

The NCDC DG reassured the public that the agency was committed to containing the outbreak and protecting the health of Nigerians.

He urged citizens to remain vigilant and report any suspected cases to the nearest health facility or state health authorities for prompt response.

“As the situation develops, the NCDC will continue to provide updates and guidance to the public to ensure effective control and prevention of Lassa fever in Kaduna State and across Nigeria,” he said.

According to him, as of Feb. 18, 2024 (end of week 7), 84 local government areas in 23 states of the country have reported a total of 2,621 suspected cases, 476 confirmed, and 84 deaths with a case fatality rate of 18.6 per cent.

“Our condolences go to the families and friends of those (including the health workers) who lost their lives to this disease across the country,” he said.

He added that the agency, through the recently activated multi-sectoral multi-disciplinary Incident Management System has taken the following actions:

“Distribution of medical supplies for case management, infection prevention and control, laboratory diagnosis, in all  Lassa fever treatment centres in the country.

“capacity building exercises of some healthcare workers across all the geopolitical zones on Lassa fever preparedness, readiness, and response through the pilot Lassa fever clinical management fellowship.

“Distribution of Lassa fever social and behaviour change communication (SBC) materials to all the 36 states and FCT,” he explained.

He called for a holistic approach to addressing public health challenges in the country, saying “we will be introducing a significant perspective on tackling complex public health issues in the country.”

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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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