Council on Health approves 12 recommendations to tackle disease outbreaks

WHO country rep Wondi Alemu, State minister of health Osagie Ehanire, Minister of health, Isaac Adewole, Perm sec, Ministry of health, Clement Uwaifo, Chief medical director Irrua Specialist Hospital. Photo credit Owoseye Ayodamola

To achieve early disease detection and control, state governments have been advised to establish functional infection prevention committees, emergency operational centres and isolation units.

These recommendations, part of 12 were given in a communique released by the emergency National Council on Health meeting held on Monday in Abuja.

The meeting with theme “State of public health in Nigeria” was organised by the federal ministry of health to deliberate on the state of public health in Nigeria.

It was also aimed at addressing the recurring disease outbreaks and specifically the recent Lassa fever outbreak which has claimed many lives including that of health workers.

In the last five weeks, 405 suspected Lassa fever cases have been reported with the current outbreak active in 15 states. Out of the suspected cases , there have been 105 laboratory confirmed cases, three probable cases with 31 deaths have been recorded.

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The meeting led by the minister of health, Isaac Adewole had in attendance 364 participants including the 36 state commissioners for health, and secretary of Health, Human Services Secretariat, FCT, international and local health outfits working within the country.

The minister said the meeting was convened to discuss the state of public health in the nation with focus on some of the challenges facing the sector.

The council also received updates from states on disease outbreak including the ongoing Lassa fever outbreak.

The commissioners also discussed the status of their respective states’ preparedness and response to general disease outbreaks.

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The executive director, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, Chikwe Ihekweazu, in his update on disease control in Nigeria especially on the ongoing Lassa fever outbreak said that resources are available at the organisation to assist the states combat the disease.

After much deliberation a four-page communique was released by the council.

On the matters arising, the council noted eight key issues as reasons why some states have been recording high causalities during disease outbreaks.

These are: poor emergency preparedness and response EPR which is due to inactive emergency preparedness response in some states; movement of patients to long distances for diagnosis/management further weakening patients; poor support for state epidemiologists/ Disease Surveillance and Notification Officers, DSNOs at sub-national levels.

Others include, poor public enlightenment and health workers education/practices on infection prevention control; lack/poor functional isolation centres/public health laboratories at sub-national levels; poor collaboration and partnership among stakeholders at all levels of health especially sub national levels and the need for states to pay attention to Lassa fever control and eradication including issues such as manpower, materials, money and data and also the importance of food safety in prevention.

The council specifically approved 12 key resolutions which will be implemented across all states.

The resolutions are:

i. All states should ensure the establishment of functional infection prevention committees IPCs, Emergency Operational Centres, EOCs and Isolation Centres.

ii. All states should adopt a multi-sectoral approach to disease outbreaks including Lassa fever

iii. All commissioners are to update their state Executives and Federal Ministry of Health about the state of public health including outbreaks on weekly basis

iv. Each state should prioritise the public health challenges in their respective states and build on appropriate partnership response to it

v. That all tertiary institutions should be able to manage Lassa fever patients

vi. All states to ensure the strengthening of community response through enlightenment campaigns community involvement

vii. All states should implement the 60th council resolution on food safety to strengthen ongoing preventive measures

viii. All states especially Borno, Kano and Kebbi states should collaborate with Nigeria centre for Disease control, NCDC, to prepare for measles, cholera, yellow fever and cerebrospinal meningitis outbreak for 2018.

ix. All states should emulate the Ebonyi state example of partnership with the federal government by establishing laboratories with existing federal hospitals in their state

x. All states that have either made no payment or part payment should pay-up their counter-part funding for measles

xi. The director legal and director public health, FMOH should review the laws on quarantine measures

xii. Research should be conducted on disease outbreaks especially in relation to modes of transmission e.g Monkeypox in immunocompromised persons and all year transmission/outbreak of Lassa fever.

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