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Tension in Ondo as Lassa fever claims over 50 lives, residents, health workers panic

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With over 50 deaths recorded in Ondo state as a result of Lassa fever outbreak, residents, as well as medical practitioners, are in panicky mood.

The endemic disease which VIKILOADED gathered has been ravaging the state for the past weeks has found its way into Akure, the Ondo State capital after cases were earlier reported in the border towns of the northern senatorial district area of the state.

According to some sources at the Federal Medical Center, FMC, Owo, where victims were being taken to for treatment, the present the state government is not doing anything as expected at curbing the deadly disease.

Stating that the situation is going beyond control, a medical practitioner at the FMC, Owo disclosed that at the “isolation ward” of the hospital where patients of such outbreaks are treated, bed spaces are no longer available.

The medical practitioner who craved for anonymity, further confirmed to DAILY POST that the medical facility is currently battling what she described as negligence from the part of some of her colleagues as a Lassa fever patient who was under observation “mysteriously” escaped from the hospital.

“What we currently facing, is quite beyond what anyone would ever imagine.

“Almost all the patients in the isolation ward are those that have contracted Lassa fever and most of the reported cases are from the border communities within Ose Local Government area of the state.

“It’s quite sad how the state government is not even attending to the situation.

“Citizens are dying from preventable disease, but the government is not showing any concern at all.”

Also, a source at the state’s Ministry of Health who requested that he should not be named being a civil servant, disclosed that the situation is such a terrible one that a state of emergency ought to have been declared within the state health sector.

The medical doctor in the ministry berated the state governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu for allowing the situation to deteriorate to its present level, due to what he described as lackadaisical attitude on the part of the governor.

“From the ministry here, we have approached the governor, on the need to urgently arrest the situation but he his not seeing it that way.

“He claims there are no funds to spend on the medical needs of these people (Lassa fever patient) but let’s be frank with ourselves, all those money being spent on political activities in the state, where are they coming from?

“I believe it is high time our political leaders started to set their priorities right. Because in the real sense of it, it’s those that will vote for them that are dying so cheaply.

“You won’t believe that as terrible as the situation is at present, there’s no single sensitization or awareness going on in the state as regards the outbreak, all in the name of that there is no fund.

“Even for the outbreak to effectively contained, schools within the affected communities should have been shut with intensive awareness taken to market places, churches, mosques and other public places.

“It will interest you to know that health workers might down tools if anyone of us is affected.

Meanwhile, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr Wahab Adegbenro emphasized that the situation calls for a combined effort of stakeholders as the state cannot bear the burden alone.

Dr. Adegbenro disclosed that the treatment of a Lassa patient costs at least N1.2m, which he said was beyond what the State Government alone can handle considering the number of people infected.

While calling on Chairmen of affected Local Government Areas in the state, Security Agencies, Development Partners and other stakeholders to brainstorm and come up with strategies that would help tackle the disease.

Also the State’s Epidemiologist, Dr. Stephen Fagbemi said there is a war against Lassa Fever and the state should be in a war mood.

He recalled that about 27 States were affected with Lassa fever last year and Ondo and Edo topped the list as they accounted for about 80% of those affected including mortality.

Dr Olalekan Ojo of the Federal Medical Center Owo said the State was witnessing more Lassa patients than any other states of the federation ”and the whole budget of the state cannot handle”

He added that the Federal Medical Center Owo was overwhelmed due to lack of sufficient manpower to cope.

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