The Nigeria Medical Association in Ebonyi State has called on the Federal Government to treat the outbreak of Lassa fever virus in the state as a national security issue that requires state of emergency.
The Chairman of the Association, Dr. Austin Ikwudinma, made the call at a news briefing on the status of a Virology Centre built for the diagnosis of Lassa fever and treatment of those who contract the virus.
The virology centre built by Ebonyi State Government but was taken over by the Federal Government in 2016 was designated as a regional centre for the diagnosis and treatment of Lassa fever in the South East and its environs.
Dr. Ikwudinma expressed regret that since its inauguration, the Centre had not functioned optimally due to lack of basic equipment and reagents.
According to Dr. Ikwudinma, patients are still being referred to Irua Specialist Hospital in Edo State for definitive diagnosis and treatment.
Dr. Ikwudinma urged the National Council on Health to revisit the rejection of the Virology Centre as a National Referral Centre in the overriding interest of public health.
While the briefing was going on, some members of the Association led by Dr. Onwe Mbam marched to government House with placards to demand immediate response to what he described as pathetic situation at the Hospital.
Addressing the Medical Doctors, the Senior Special Assistant to the State Governor on Health Matters, Dr. Sunday Nwangele noted that government was saddened over the deaths and announced some measures being taken to curtail further spread of the virus.
As at the time of filing this report, some doctors at Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki were pushing for what they described as 21 stay at home to reduce further spread of the virus among health personnel.
Meanwhile, Ebonyi State Government has released 7 million Naira as part of containment measures against the outbreak of Lassa fever in the state.
Governor David Umahi announced this while addressing newsmen over the outbreak of the virus at Government House Abakaliki.
He explained that the money was to enable the state government to source for experts who would fully activate the virology centre, buy some reagents and embark on contact tracing in the state.
The Governor expressed sadness over the condition of the virology centre handed over to the Federal government in 2016, emphasizing that the State Government was ready to spend more funds to ensure that it becomes fully operational.
Chief Umahi said the State Government had incorporated representatives of Nigeria Medical Association into a Lassa fever Committee set up to help in the monitoring of cases in areas where dead victims received treatment and care.
Governor Umahi noted that the Federal Government had sent a team of experts from Abuja to assist the State Government in the training of medical doctors on how to diagnose and manage the case.
In the mean time, four medical personnel, made up of three doctors and a male nurse, have so far been confirmed to have died of Lassa Fever since the recent outbreak of the virus in Ebonyi State.