Panic in Benue as strange disease kills victims within 48 hours

Posted by News Express | 7 February 2020 | 697 times

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 Residents of Benue State are having a horrible experience with a strange disease which is ravaging some communities in the state.

The worse hit victims live in areas in Oye-Obi local government area of the state where 15 deaths have been recorded and 104 others infected since the mystery disease broke out on January 29, 2020.

The survival chances of those infected are very slim because they always die within 48 hours and the symptoms manifest in the form of swollen stomach, legs, internal heat, vomiting, and diarrhoea.

The ailment, which cure and treatment are yet to be discovered by Nigeria’s health authorities, broke out as the country battles the Lassa fever scourge and coronavirus is sending shockwaves across the globe.

The unknown disease outbreak in Benue and its devastating effects on the people was brought to the notice of the Senate yesterday by Senator Abba Moro (PDP – Benue South) during plenary. Consequently, the lawmakers directed the Federal Ministry of Health to immediately mobilise focal persons to the affected communities to investigate and ascertain the nature of the disease.

The Senate also ordered the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to promptly put up surveillance to contain the disease, ensure the treatment of victims and protect others from contacting it.

These resolutions were reached after the consideration of a motion brought on the floor by Senator Moro.

Moro had told the Senate that the first victims of the epidemic outbreak were Happiness Ogbo, Onajobi Ogbedu, Wisdom Agwo, Andy Edu, all of whom died 48 hours after contacting the yet to be diagnosed disease by health authorities and medical experts in Benue State.

He added that the symptoms of the disease were headache, internal heat, diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach ache, weakness of the body and swollen stomach.

Senator Moro said: “As at Monday, February 3, 2020, the number of persons affected by the strange epidemic had risen to 104.”

Production of Lassa Fever vaccine in progress – Minister

Meanwhile, the minister for health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, has said that progress has been made in the local production of vaccines to contain the Lassa fever disease, which has hit many states of the federation.

Since the disease outbreak in January this year, the death toll in Nigeria has risen to 41.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had said Tuesday that from January 1 to January 26 a total of 258 cases were confirmed, including five health workers, in 19 states of the federation.

While opening a meeting of state commissioners of health organised by the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), Ehanire said that breakthrough in the vaccines’ production was imminent.

The minister disclosed that about 27 states of the federation had recorded cases of Lassa fever as at the last count, adding that the federal government was doing a lot in terms of prevention.

He said: “I thank the states for the cooperation the federal government has received in its efforts to tackle Lassa fever which has reached about 27 states as at the last count and also to have ensured that the popular coronavirus has not entered Nigeria. Progress is being made in the production of vaccines for Lassa fever.”

According to him, Nigeria has not reached the level of providing the quality of health required to its population, stressing that “we know that our country health system does not yet provide the level of quality of service required to meet the population.”

Ehanire noted that Nigeria was far from reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as he stated that the “maternal mortality rate of 512 per 100,000 live births and under-5 morality rate of 132 per thousand births; that we are far away from reaching SDGs.”

The minister said that with the right approach, appeal, and strategic use of data and resources, the country can achieve the strategic development goals.

He maintained that the country has the potential to becoming a major player in the global economy by virtue of its human resource, natural resources and endowment, adding that the government is focused on investment in human capital development.

The development of a functional healthcare system, he said, is the foundation of healthcare which must be complemented by a strong secondary health care system.

“The policy requires that you develop the primary, secondary and a functional health system in every local government area of the state. When all these are not put in place, the connectivity is lost,” he stated.

The minister urged state commissioners for health to make their governors understand that the secondary level of healthcare is as important as the primary.

The director-general of the NGF, Asishana Okauru, in his remarks, acknowledged the ongoing efforts of the federal government to revitalise primary healthcare in Nigeria.

Okauru, who was represented by Chijioke Chuku, remarked that primary healthcare remains the pillar of the healthcare system.

He said that the governors and two foundations had made commitments aimed at promoting stronger collaboration among the states, the NPHCDA, Federal Ministry of Health and development partners to transform primary healthcare at the sub-national level.

Coronavirus: World launches $675m preparedness, response plan

To contain the spread of the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak in China and globally, and protect states with weaker health systems, the international community has launched a $675 million preparedness and response plan covering the months of February to April 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.

WHO, which made this known in a statement from its headquarters in Geneva, yesterday, said that there was urgent support needed to protect vulnerable countries from the outbreak.

The world body said that the Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP) for the new coronavirus lays out activities and resources needed by international health organisations globally, including WHO, to implement priority public health measures in support of countries to prepare and respond to nCoV-2019 for the period February-April 2020.

It further stated that the objectives of the plan are to limit human-to-human transmission of the virus, particularly in countries most vulnerable if they were to face an outbreak; identify, isolate and care for patients early; communicate critical risk and event information; minimise social and economic impacts; reduce virus spread from animal sources and address crucial unknowns.

WHO director-general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “My biggest worry is that there are countries today which do not have the systems in place to detect people who have contracted with the virus, even if it were to emerge. Urgent support is needed to bolster weak health systems to detect, diagnose and care for people with the virus, to prevent further human-to-human transmission and protect health workers.

“The effectiveness of outbreak response depends on the preparedness measures put in place before outbreaks strike. That is why we are seeking resources to safeguard the most vulnerable countries to protect people from the new coronavirus before it arrives on the doorstep,” head of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, Dr. Mike Ryan said.

As noted in the SPRP, WHO assesses that the outbreak poses a very high risk in China and high risk regionally and globally. The risk assessment was based on factors including the likelihood of further spread, the potential impact on human health, and the varying levels of effectiveness in national preparedness and response measures. Accelerated action, as called for in the plan, can address these risks and areas requiring support.

“As of 10 am. Central European time on February 5, 25 countries had confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, including China, where 24,363 people had contracted the virus, or over 99 per cent of all cases. In all other countries, 191 cases have contracted the virus,” the statement explained.

Senate to invite Health Minister over Coronavirus

As the world rolled out its Marshal Plan against coronavirus, the Senate yesterday resolved to invite the Ehanire (health minister, to brief it on the preparedness of his ministry to check a possible outbreak of the disease in Nigeria.

The Senate, however, charged the Nigerian Custom Service (NCS) to introduce measures to stop the exportation of surgical face-masks from Nigeria to Asia and other countries affected by the dreaded Coronavirus.

The upper chamber also urged the Nigeria Police Force, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Federal Ministry of Health, Nigerian Immigration Service and other relevant authorities to strengthen port health regulatory services in all entry ports across the country to check the outbreak of the virus in Nigeria.

This formed part of resolutions adopted following the consideration of a motion sponsored by Senator Ifeanyi Ubah (YPP – Anambra South).

Ubah said that “over the last three weeks, face-masks have become the most sought-after commodity in Nigeria with over 100 million face-masks being unpatriotically exported to Asia using the Murtala Mohammed Airport and Port Harcourt International Airport.”

The lawmaker disclosed that “the exportation of these face-masks have led to a surge in the market prices.

“As at November 5, 2019, stores that usually sell one piece of face-mask for N10 now sell it for N80, while a pack consisting of 50 pieces has been inflated from N500 to N3,000; with a carton consisting of 40 packs also inflated from N20,000 to N120,000.

“It has now become a booming trade for illicit traders aided by airport officials in Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos and Port Harcourt International Airport to unpatriotically export face-masks to China, India and other affected countries,” Ubah lamented.

He warned that unless something was done, Nigeria may soon be facing shortage of protective surgical face-masks, especially against the backdrop that “the country is on the brink of an imminent outbreak given our massive population and frequency to travel.”

Consequently, the Senate urged the NCS to impose strict penalties and heavy fines on anybody trying to export surgical face-masks within the period of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Upper House also mandated the health ministry and other relevant agencies to launch a sensitisation campaign in preventing the outbreak of the virus in Nigeria. (Leadership)



Source: News Express

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