By Kunle Sanni
The Minister for Health, Osagie Ehanire, has said about 27 states of the federation have recorded cases of Lassa fever as at the last count.
Mr Ehanire said this on Thursday during a meeting with state health commissioners across the 36 states, at a two-day event organised by the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) in Abuja.
He also disclosed that progress is being made by the federal government on developing a vaccine against the disease in partnership with a German research firm.
The 36 state governors, under the aegis of the NGF, said in January that state governments are partnering with other health agencies to tackle the epidemic.
At least 16 people have so far died in a fresh outbreak of the disease in Ondo State, and about 84 cases have also been recorded since the beginning of the year.
In Kano State, the outbreak has killed three victims, including a pregnant woman and two medical doctors, after they were diagnosed at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital.
The Nigeria Centre for Diseases Control, (NCDC) said at least 82 cases have been detected across Nigeria in 2020 with at least 14 deaths.
Meanwhile, Mr Ehanire called on all Nigerians to ensure that the battle to curb the outbreak is not for government alone, saying it is a collaborative effort.
“I thank you all at this point for commendation the federal ministry of health has received in its efforts to contain the outbreak of Lassa fever which has moved to about 27 states as at last count. And we are also in collaboration to ensure that the Coronavirus does not enter Nigeria
“The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and other services are coordinating the government response to control the outbreak and also prevent importation, progress is being made on developing a vaccine against Lassa fever with the help of a German medical research firm,” he said
He said Nigeria had not reached the level of providing the kind of quality health required to meet its growing population.
Mr Ehanire said the Nigerian government would continue to ensure that health has priority in the development agenda of this administration.
He added that some primary healthcare centres “have been standardised to provide 24 hours of medical service”.
The health minister called on state health commissioners to speak with their various governors “that the secondary level of the healthcare system is just as important as the primary healthcare sector.”
“The temptation is to go for large visible hospital complexes, which are very impressive. But forget that down below, the needs there are not met, these large hospitals can convey about six, five general hospitals.
“We know that our country’s health system does not yet provide the level of quality of service required to meet the population.
“There is a need to have a sound primary healthcare system with a secondary PHCs including a functional general hospital in at least one in every LGA, there can be many more though.
“But I have always believed that private sectors always have a role to play here, states cannot meet this responsibility alone.”
In his remarks, the Director-General of NGF, Asishana Okauru, acknowledged the ongoing efforts of the Federal Government to strengthen the primary healthcare sector in the country.
Mr Okauru, who was represented by Chijioke Chuku, the NGF head of legal affairs, said “governors are committed to ensuring that PHC which is regarded as the pillar of the healthcare system remains functional in all the states.”