* Nigeria may continue to record cases of Lassa fever, says NCDC
The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) has said that although progress in Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) vaccine development by the scientific community continues to raise hope that one day this feat will be achieved, a lot of work is still required.
Director General of NACA, Dr. Sani Aliyu, said he is optimistic that developing a HIV vaccine is feasible in the not-too-distant future, and called for renewed commitment by all stakeholders to make this feat happen. “As we mark World HIV Vaccine Day, I call for a renewed commitment from all stakeholders to push for the realization of the production of this much needed vaccine.”
Aliyu as part of activities to mark the 21st anniversary of global efforts to develop a HIV vaccine, last Friday, in Abuja, said NACA, in partnership with the New HIV Vaccine and Microbicide Advocacy Society (NHVMAS) will continue to collaborate with relevant stakeholders in promoting community education and awareness as well as intensify efforts to ensure that an effective HIV vaccine is developed to arrest the HIV epidemic at a global level.
Also, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), given the epidemiology of Lassa fever in Nigeria, the country may continue to record cases of Lassa fever.To this end, the centre in collaboration with Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital would commence a nationwide training of health workers on Lassa fever clinical diagnosis and management.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the centre, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, who disclosed this in Abuja, said the agency wants to support other healthcare facilities in strengthening their capacity to manage Lassa fever cases.
According him, the training will include Lassa fever case management physicians and nurses at treatment centres, State Epidemiologists, State Disease Surveillance Officers, State Laboratory Scientists, and State Health Educators.
Between January 1 and May 6 2018, Nigeria was faced with its largest outbreak of Lassa fever. During this outbreak we saw more confirmed cases than the country had ever recorded. He noted that these officers would be held accountable for the response and management of subsequent Lassa fever outbreaks in their States.
Ihekweazu observed that by the end of the training, the centre must have built the capacity of frontline clinical, laboratory and public health workers on case management, laboratory diagnosis, prevention and control of Lassa Fever.
The CEO who noted that the Institute for Lassa Fever Research and Control at the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH) manages the largest burden of Lassa fever cases in Nigeria and globally said they are working to improve the knowledge and skills of surveillance officers and healthcare workers for effective Lassa fever outbreak response.
Meanwhile, the HIV Vaccine Awareness Day is a day that recognizes stakeholders involved in HIV vaccine research, including health professionals, volunteers, members of the civil society and scientists. It provides an opportunity to educate communities about the importance of developing a HIV vaccine for both preventive and treatment purposes.
According to latest figures from NACA, over three million people in Nigeria are living with HIV. Every new infection has social and economic consequences for the country. A successful HIV vaccine would reduce the number of new infections and also slow the progress of the illness in those infected with the virus. It is important for all stakeholders to double their efforts to ensure that Nigeria as a country contributes positively to the development of a HIV vaccine.The established roadmap for HIV vaccine development is vigorously being followed, with stakeholders conducting operational and implementation research to address potential barriers that can hinder access to HIV Vaccine.
By: Chukwuma Muanya and Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze
The Guardian News
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