Environment Minister Mohammad Mahmoud Abubakar
Environment Minister Mohammad Mahmoud Abubakar

Lassa fever: Environment Ministry to Launch Health Surveillance System

Following the outbreak of the deadly Lassa fever which has so far claimed about 29 lives in 11 States, the Federal Ministry of Environment (FMENV) has disclosed its intention of putting in place an environmental health and sanitation surveillance system.

Minister of Environment, Dr. Mohammed Mahmood Abubakar, made this known in Abuja, at a press conference on the on-going lassa fever outbreak across the country.

He noted that the latest report from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) released on 25th January 2020, has it that 195 confirmed and 29 deaths have been recorded in Edo, Ondo, Ebonyi, Delta, Taraba, Plateau, Bauchi, Ogun, Abia, Kano, and Enugu State.

Dr. Abubakar, said the surveillance system will strength the cooperation between the State and Federal Government on environmental health and sanitation issues.

“It will also help in information/data gathering and sharing between the Federal, State and Local Governments,” he added.

The Minister, further disclosed that FMENV, through Environmental Health Registration Council of Nigeria (EHORECON), is also organizing capacity development programme on Entomology and Public Health Pest control to study rodents of public health importance, in order to control them.

According to him, their already-launched sensitization programme on the preventive and control measures of lassa fever, will be a continuous exercise, which will be taken down to local communities, mosques, churches, markets, schools, motor parks, restaurants/hotels and to any place where there are likelihood of large gathering.

He said FMENV has directed all environmental health professionals in the Federal, State and LGAs to immediately re-embark on environmental health surveillance of premises to identify rodents’ harbourage, destroy rodents in homes, and industrial premises, while also developing sanitary means and facilities for drying of food cereals, legumes and tubers to ward off their invasion by rodents.

Said Dr. Mahmood Abubakar: “Before the recent lassa fever outbreak, the Ministry had taken proactive measures to improve the overall general sanitation and hygiene situation in the country.

“The Ministry in 2019, established Sanitation Desks in all the 36 States, and these sanitation desk officers are to coordinate sanitation and related activities within their States, liase with their respective Local Government Environment Departments and report back to FMENV.

“They are also expected to monitor and report lassa fever cases and other environmental determinants of diseases to FMENV headquarters. The Sanitation Desks are to replicated in all 774 LGAs in the country”.

By PRNigeria