NAN – The National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has called on government to improve existing response mechanism to ensure rapid response in cases of disease outbreaks in the country.
Dr Muhammad Askira, President of the association, made the call at a news conference on Sunday in Abuja on the recent outbreak of Lassa fever.
Askira said the disease had so far claimed 43 lives in 10 states and the FCT Abuja.
He decried the emergency response arrangement set up by the government to tackle outbreak of any epidemic of this nature.
Askira said that such outbreaks do not require ad hoc arrangements or committees; rather, there should be an existing strategy to cushion the effect in any emergency or epidemic situation.
According to him, it will, in no small way, reduce the death toll arising from such cases.
He explained that there should be already well structured strategies from the local, state and federal government levels to ensure that prompt attention was given to such situations.
“There should be on ground, at any given point, already well structured strategic system, from the Local to the Federal Governments, from the primary healthcare level to tertiary healthcare, already whereby the team is already on alert for prompt and effective response to this type of epidemic.
“We should not wait until there is an outbreak before we start rushing to address the epidemic.
“This involves a lot of logistics which comes from the society, healthcare providers and the government itself.
“It can be in the form of financing, appropriate equipment and facilities, well and adequately trained manpower to handle suspected and confirmed cases, and so on.
“So whenever these are not adequate or properly applied, we have pockets and periods of epidemic of this nature,’’ he said.
Regarding the death toll being higher than the case of Ebola, Askira said that the rodent transmitting the virus was endemic, while Ebola was imported to the country.
The president called on all state branches of the association to take leading roles in safe guarding and protecting the health and lives of Nigerians.
According to him, this can be achieved by setting up emergency teams in all the branches and collaborating with all federal and state health facilities to ensure effective and prompt referral networks, among others.
He commended the present administration for giving the deserved attention and required urgency to set up of the national emergency to nip Lassa fever in the bud.
Askira also urged Nigerians to maintain proper hygiene by washing their dishes before use and protecting their foods from rats and other infectious rodents.