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NCDC Activates Lassa fever Emergency Operations Centre to Strengthen the Response to Rising Cases of Lassa Fever in NigeriaLassa Fever in Nigeria

Throughout order to coordinate and strengthen existing response efforts in the nation, the Nigeria Center for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) has activated the national multisectoral Emergency Operations Centre for Lassa Fever (LF-EOC) at level 2. Following a risk assessment conducted on January 20, 2023 by subject matter experts from the NCDC, pertinent Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs), stakeholders, and important partners, the LF-EOC was activated. The risk assessment’s findings indicated that there was a very high risk of increased Lassa fever transmission in the nation because of the following:

  • Compared to past years, there is an exceptional rise in the number of confirmed cases being reported.
  • Compared to prior years, more states are reporting incidents.
  • Lassa fever infection increases the risk of infections and fatalities in healthcare workers.

The situation report for January 22, 2023, listed 244 confirmed cases from 16 states and the FCT, including Ondo (90), Edo (89), Bauchi (13), Taraba (10), Benue (9), Ebonyi (9), Nasarawa (7), Plateau (5), Kogi (4), Anambra (2), Delta (1), Oyo (1), Adamawa (1), Enugu (1), Imo (1), and FCT, with 37 fatalities and a case fatality rate of (1). Healthcare professionals need to have a higher index of suspicion because infection and mortality among them accounted for 5 and 1 of the confirmed cases and fatalities, respectively.

The goal of activating the EOC is to develop a coordinated national response, particularly across the affected states, to stop the spread of the disease, lessen its impact by lowering disease-related suffering and fatalities (morbidity and mortality), and other socioeconomic repercussions.

Communities and governments at all levels have a shared obligation to provide for their healthcare needs. We rely on the cooperation and support of States in the formulation and implementation of evidence-driven epidemic response plans for respective territories, even though the NCDC is tasked to lead prevention, emergency preparedness, and response to public health catastrophes.

The Nigerian government, working with the multisectoral Lassa Fever Technical Working Group (TWG) of the NCDC, had already implemented the following actions prior to the activation of the EOC to address the increasing number of Lassa fever cases:

Prepositioning of goods and medications to aid in the control of the Lassa fever response

the sending of national rapid reaction teams (NRRT) to hotspot states to assist with community involvement, risk communication, contact tracing, and case management, among other things.

To ensure a coordinated response at all levels, a national Incident Action Plan (IAP) is being developed.

Planned deployment of Surge personnel to high-burden states for the care of Lassa fever cases

The NCDC prepositioned supplies for case management, infection prevention and control, laboratory diagnosis, etc. in all previously identified Lassa fever hotspots across the nation ahead of the anticipated rise in cases of the disease, and as the country started to see a rise in cases in the last week of November 2022. This was supplemented by letters that were sent to the respective professional bodies of healthcare workers, the Honourable Commissioners of Health, the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, the State Ministries of Health, and the Honourable Commissioners of Health to alert and sensitize them to the situation and to advocate for in-State activities to combat Lassa fever.

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