Tony Osauzo, Benin
Lassa Fever has claimed three lives at the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH) since January when the outbreak started.
Sixty-one patients are currently on admission at the hospital, with 27 others having been treated and discharged.
ISTH Medical Director Professor Sylvanus Okogbenin, who disclosed this while speaking with reporters, dispelled rumours that an NYSC member serving in Asaba and two pregnant women admitted for Lassa Fever lost their lives at the hospital.
He said the two pregnant women were brought in from Ondo and Ogun states and that they both delivered their babies safely, adding that the Youth Corps member has received two dialyses and is recovering.
The Irrua Specialist Hospital is a recognised centre for diagnosing and treatment of Lassa Fever.
Prof Okogbenin further disclosed that a medical doctor from Jalingo who was admitted for Lassa Fever and, although presumed dead, is responding to treatment.
“The number of patients we are seeing are on the increase but the deaths have reduced significantly,” he explained. “This is because we are better prepared. We know the season so we get our supplies ready.
“Because of greater awareness, people will now come. There are diagnoses in more centres than before and it is a mixture of an increase in awareness that leads to an increase in the number of patients we see.
”All our patients are not from Edo. Some are from Kogi, Jigawa and Ogun.
”We have Edo cases in Esan North East, Estako West and Esan West. Those areas are where we have surveillance and try to educate the people.
“The state government has been supportive. We received over 500 protective equipment from the state government. The National Centre for Disease Control supplied consumables used for treatment.
“Lassa Fever treatment is not declared free. A bed is N1000 daily. The drug is free. If patients cannot pay, they are treated and asked to go. No patient is sent away because of payment.
“No Youth Corper died here. The Youth Corper that was brought here is still alive. He is recovering and has done two dialysis sessions. The two pregnant women from Ogun and Owo also delivered safely. Their babies are fine and okay. The medical doctor from Jalingo did not die. He is doing well. We expect him to make a full recovery soon.
“We need people to understand that when they have Lassa they çan come for treatment. We have not lost anybody in the past two weeks”, Prof Okogbenin reassured.
Meanwhile, the Edo State government has deployed more medical personnel to border communities to sensitise people on preventive measures.
It has also approved the deployment of three ambulances to convey patients to Lassa Fever centres. It also plans to buy two additional dialysis machines to complement the one at Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital.