Medical Doctors in Ebonyi state, Tuesday, blamed the Federal Government for the death of their colleagues through Lassa Fever as they staged a peaceful protest at the Government House Abakaliki.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported the death of two doctors and a nurse working at Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki, FETHA to suspected Lassa Fever infection.
The doctors gave the names of the deceased personnel as Felix Ali, an indigene of Ebonyi State, Abel Udo, who hails from Akwa Ibom state and a nurse, Innocent Iwe from Imo state.
The doctors carried placards with inscriptions to vent their anger over the development.
They noted that apart from those confirmed dead, another house officer is currently in a critical situation at the Irrua Specialist Hospital, Edo state, an information PREMIUM TIMES could not immediately verify.
Leader of the protesting doctors, Onwe Mbam said that since 2005 till date, ”there has not been any year that Lassa fever has not killed a health worker.”
He said that the state governor, David Umahi after the construction of a virology center in Ebonyi handed it to the Federal government which promised to equip the center. He said nothing had been done since then.
He said some of the doctors and the nurses who later died as a result of the outbreak were first taken to the virology center before they were taken to Irrua Specialist Hospital.
“We had expected the federal government who had before now promised to equip the place to do so. Dr. Felix stayed there a day and his counterpart, Dr. Udo while the nurse stayed four days there before he was also taken to Irrua where he also died,” he said.
He said the dead doctor was buried immediately to avoid spread of the diseases.
“Immediately Dr. Felix died, they wrapped him in a body bag, put him in an ambulance and moved him down from Irrua to Federal Teaching Hospital gate where we followed him to his village. Before then, we had already communicated them to dig a grave before our arrival. On getting to the village, we put on our hazmat suit, brought out the corpse put it in the casket we bought and dumped him in the grave.
“Unfortunately, it was only the brother and four villagers that summoned the courage to come close because the disease is highly contagious. Regretablly, the second doctor, Dr. Udo is still lying in a wooden box close to the mortuary at the Teaching hospital. The fact is that, they cannot take him inside the mortuary because he will conterminate other bodies in the mortuary,” he added.
Mr. Mbam urged the federal government to fulfil it’s promise by fully equipping the virology center.
Reacting, the senior special assistant to Governor Umahi on health services, Sunday Nwangele said that the state has taken ”some measure to avert the spread.”
He added that a virologist has been invited by the state government to manage the center and train other virologists in the state on how to run the center.
He said that on arrival this evening, the virologist will manage all outstanding cases for about 2 months and put in place every outstanding machine in the centre before leaving the state.
He said the contact tracing committee has commenced work while the state governor has released substantial amount of money to ensure that the situation is brought under control.
He urged the doctors to remain calm and go about their normal business and assured of government’s commitment to their safety and welfare.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Medical Association, Ebonyi branch also in a communique after it’s emergency meeting on Tuesday called on the Federal Government to equip the lassa fever virology centre in the state which it took over from the state government.
“Federal government should live up to their promises through the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole on 5th of September, 2016 to make the virology centre in Abakaliki a National Referral Centre by making it functional.
“The voting by the National Council on Health stepping down the acquisition of the virology Centre in Abakaliki as a National Referral Centre should be promptly reversed in the overriding interest of justice, equity and public health.”
”The management of Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki and other hospitals in the state should acknowledge the endemicity of Lassa fever in the state and promptly provide basic personnel protective equipment for save health service delivery,” the communiqué read.
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