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Philip Nweze: Lassa Fever Critics Leave Ebonyi State Government Alone


By Philip Nweze

The incurable critics and wailers are at it again. It seems these rustic negative people are never tired of whispering the name “Umahi” and dishing out occasional doses of falsehood on the name. It disturbed my peace of mind when I read the torrents of criticisms and verbal missiles fired at the state government by these charlatans and hirelings over the recent fresh outbreak of lassa fever in the state. Initially, I thought I should ignore them. But with our collective silence the critics have become more daring. I was particularly miffed and embarrassed that fellow Ebonyians are portraying themselves in such unacceptable bad light by playing politics with the unfortunate death of their fellow compatriots who fell to the dreaded lassa fever disease.

Despite the lies, misinformation and falsehood, the truth, as always, remains unassailable.The Lassa Fever disease which has so far claimed the lives of three medical personnel and a patient at the Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki has been met with corresponding decisive action ever since it reared it’s ugly murderous head. Among the interventions was the release of five million naira to fully activate the Virology Centre, Abakaliki built two years ago.

Part of the five million naira will be used to train medical personnel and procure some reagents to equip the Centre. Also, following a distress call to the Hon Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, by the governor, the minister immediately flew down some medical experts from Abuja, in addition to the ones to be sourced from Lagos and Benin to facilitate the training of a newly assembled lassa fever crack team.

Similarly, an approval has also been given to release two million naira to a Lassa Fever Committee to mount surveillance and monitoring in and around Hausa Quarters, MacGregor and Mata Hospital, Afikpo as well as FETHA One and Two Abakaliki where the first contacts were traced to, while relatives of the victims are also to be put on close monitoring and rigorous surveillance. Also, public, private and mission schools in Ebonyi state have been shut down for one week until 26th January to check the spread of the killer disease.

Rather than berated, kudos should go to the state government for its swift intervention, strong leadership and effective coordination of the response that included the immediate establishment of a committee of government and Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), release of funds and drafting of experts from across the country. The Government’s quick action and deployment of the necessary resources was key to averting a major disaster. If not for the doggedness of Ebonyi state goverror in containing the disease, the scenario could have snowballed into a major epidemic. Also, don’t forget the proactive steps and drastic measures earlier taken even before the disease resurfaced in 2018. The most pronounced were the building of a first rate virology laboratory, procurement of ambulances and a sustained media awareness campaign till date.

It is particularly saddening that the world class Lassa Fever Centre has not become functional since it was built and handed over to the Federal Government in 2016. But should the governor and his team receive the bashing for its dormant operational status? Hell No! The governor should rather be applauded and venerated for the steps taken so far in addressing the plague of lassa fever.

Once the lassa fever red alert hit town, Governor Umahi put together at an emergency meeting convened on Tuesday 16th January, to coordinate immediate risk assessment of the situation and fashion out the strengthening of prevention and preparedness for any potential introduction of the virus to more parts of the state. In the past one week, there has been an increased focus on reinforcing principles of infection prevention and control across the state. What more can you ask of a governor.

In all fairness, Gov. Umahi deserves triple kudos​ for venturing into the Virology centre project for the benefit of Ebonyi people. The handover of the centre to the Federal Government was necessary for effective use and maintenance of the centre but unfortunately the characteristic snail speed approach of the central government had set in to deny Ebonyi people the benefit of this visionary project.

Given the periodic outbreaks of lassa fever in Ebonyi state, the Virology centre project is an important one and so should not be politicized the way some people are doing. This is moreso given the lives that have been lost, the negative impacts of the lassa fever outbreak on the socio-economic life of the people and the hopelessness the non-functional Virology centre has foisted on Ebonyi people!

The blackmail against the governor is diversionary and misplaced. Ebonyi people and all men of good will should demand explanation on the non-functional status of the Virology centre in Abakaliki from the Federal Ministry of Health who took it over since 2016 and upgraded it to a zonal hospital.

The APC sponsored online mouth leaking goons are bereft of ideas hence this shameful attempt to drag the name and reputation of the governor into disrepute with their pre-mediated attacks.


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1 Comment

  1. My Name Is Sunday Nwantubo says:

    The Cost Of Lassa Fever In Ebonyi State Is The People Who Take The Money Federal Ministry Of Health Gave To Built The House

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