By Stanley Onyekwere
Community leaders in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have been implored to join hands with other stakeholders in combating Lassa fever and coronavirus, two of the epidemic prone diseases currently ravaging the world.
In particular, traditional leaders, as critical stakeholders closiest to the people are enjoined to take up the challenge by helping to share and transmit information on precautionary measures against the deadly diseases among themselves, and to their subjects.
Making this appeal yesterday during a sensitisation programme in Kuje, Director, Public Health Department of the FCT Health and Human Services Secretariat (HHSS), Dr. (Mrs.) Josephine Okechukwu noted that the call became neccessary due to their critical role in the society.
Dr. Okechukwu, while addressing stakeholders at the Kuje Market explained that although it is the responsibility of FCT Public Health department to always enlighten the people on such epidemic, but it requires the support of all to succeed.
She disclosed that between January and now, there have been 18 suspected cases of Lassa fever, only one has been confirmed to have Lassa fever while two others that were also confirmed cases were not from FCT, but we’re managing them in the FCT.
Her words: ‘Within the period, 47 people have died, and in 23 states including the FCT have recorded Lassa fever outbreak, so as at now Lassa fever has come to FCT.
“For now, three people that we are managing in FCT have Lassa fever, but one got it from FCT, the other two brought it into FCT from other states.
“It is our responsibility to sensitise everybody, so what we are doing is to make sure that everybody gets to know what Lassa fever is all about.
“So when we are talking about such problems, please will want you to join us, come and hear for your own good and that of your family.”
She adds: “Ignorance is not excuse any more, hence everybody must know about this epidemic prone diseases. This problem that has been ravaging lives of people in our communities.
“ I thank you (Chiefs) for honouring our invitation, so when you go back, please transmit our information to other chiefs in communities in Kuje and beyond.
“Please help transmit our information to other chiefs in communities in Kuje Area Council and beyond, because it’s not Kuje alone but FCT at large. Let everybody join hands with us in combating the epidemic prone diseases.
“ I’m pleading with you, when you go back and tell everybody in your homes, communities; in the churches, mosques, markets what is Lassa fever; what causes it; how it can be transmitted, and then what to do to prevent it, as prevention is always better than cure.”
On his part, the Chief of Gwargwarda in Kuje, Alhaji Jibril Abubakar, while describing the health sensitisation programme as a laudable initiative, said its timing was apt, in the wake of the palpable threats from the epidemic diseases.
He assured strong commitment of the traditional institutions to wide the scope of the ongoing awareness campaign against Lassa fever and other diseases in the Territory.
Not left out, Market Women leader in Kuje, Mrs Vivian Odey, who cautioned traders to be careful with patronising food vendors in open places, commended the FCT Administration for the inclusive sensitisation programme in the Territory.