Doctor seeks to hire more environmental health inspectors

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A public health doctor, Professor Tanimola Akande, has called on the three levels of government to increase the number of environmental health inspectors to reduce the spread of Lassa fever.

Akande, former president of the Association of Public Health Physicians, made the call in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria on Tuesday in Lagos.

According to him, the incidence of Lassa fever in most states is concerning and requires concerted efforts to reduce the disease burden.

Akande attributed the challenge of inadequate health officials to the lull in government recruitment, noting that environmental health officials were few for the country’s population.

“The population and the number of houses have increased rapidly, however, the number of health personnel has not increased to meet the demands of population growth and development.

“Many evils are due to a bad environment. We need functional health inspectors who will go around the houses like they did in the 60s.

“Appropriate penalties should also be imposed on those who do not keep their environment clean,” he said.

Akande noted that the few health inspectors should extend their reach beyond slaughterhouses and markets to create a healthier environment.

He noted that preventive measures were essential, stressing the need to strengthen public awareness on the prevention and transmission of Lassa fever.

“There is a need to raise awareness about proper food storage and hygienic environment to prevent rats from breeding.

“The way we arbitrarily dispose of trash would encourage rat breeding, encourage people to dispose of trash appropriately,” he said.

The professor also called on governments to ensure a good surveillance system that would detect cases of Lassa fever as early as possible.

He added that when the cases are selected, an investigation should be carried out to determine the factors causing the virus to prevent another outbreak.

Akande noted that the current situation of having few centers able to treat Lassa fever cases was inappropriate.

He stressed the need to improve health care financing to create more facilities for the treatment of Lassa fever cases.

NAN reports that the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) said 23 states had recorded at least one confirmed case of Lassa fever in 93 local government areas.

Lassa fever is an acute, hemorrhagic virus transmitted by a type of rat common in West Africa.

Humans are usually infected with Lassa virus through exposure to food or household items contaminated with the urine or feces of infected Mastomys rats.

The disease is endemic in the rodent population in parts of West Africa.

(NOPE)

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