Prof. Dennis Agbonlahor, member, National Committee on the Control of Lassa Fever, has said that the disease will continue to live with Nigeria unless efforts are intensified on vaccine production.
Agbonlahor stated this on Wednesday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Benin, the Edo State capital.
He said Nigeria is yet to get an effective vaccine for the severe viral hemorrhagic disease, 53 years after its first outbreak in Nigeria.
This, he said, was because Lassa Fever is a regional disease unlike the global coronavirus that is killing more white than the black.
“There is politics everywhere and the challenge is that vaccines for Lassa Fever are not available as against the COVID-19, which vaccines are produced within three months,” he said.
He, however, said the vaccine for Lassa Fever is “currently undergoing a clinical trial in Ghana.
“The authorities in the past, even the Federal Ministry of Health, did not show any serious commitment to the eradication of the disease until the emergence of the last Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu.
“Ihekweazu began to answer some calls, which resulted to the weekly update on the number of Lassa Fever infections and daily updates on COVID-19.
“Government is showing some interest now, which we are happy about.
“However, there must be vaccine available if we are to eradicate it, particularly for farmers and frontline health workers.”
According to Agbonlahor, a professor of Medical Laboratory Science, depopulation of Mastomys Natalensis, the peri-domestic rodents that are carriers of the virus is a way to reduce the spread.
A proposal on how to achieve that, the medical researcher said, had been submitted to the Federal Ministry of Health, calling on the government to make money available in earnest to carry out the exercise.
He said: “They may be impossible to eradicate, but we can reduce the population; we can achieve this if our leaders shy away from corruption.
“We are not directing our resources appropriately.
“Meanwhile, the health of a nation is the wealth of that nation.
“Politicians embezzling money can be infected too.”
The renowned medical laboratory scientist, however, called on individuals to ensure that their homes are rodents free to make them less susceptible to the virus.
NAN reports that the Edo State Government recently announced recording a total of 176 cases of Lassa fever in 11 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the state.
The state Commissioner for Health, Prof. Obehi Akoria, who made the disclosure while addressing newsmen after the weekly State Executive Council meeting, said that of the 11 LGAs, Etsako West and Esan West are the worst hit by the infection.
Akoria said: “Eleven local governments of Edo State have been affected by Lassa fever and leading among these are Etsako West and Esan West, which account for about 64 per cent of the cases and 52 per cent death.
“As at Tuesday April, 5, 2022, we have confirmed 176 cases of Lassa fever in Edo State and we are committed to eradicating it, focusing on eradicating the breed of rats that causes the disease.”