The Lagos state government says it is working round the clock to curb the spread of a water borne, intestinal ailment that is claiming lives by the day. 400 Lagosians and counting, have so far been infected with Gastroenteritis, a water-borne disease caused by microorganisms, according to Commissioner for Health in Lagos, Prof Akin Abayomi.
11 lives have also been lost to the outbreak thus far. For all you need to know about the gastroenteritis epidemic, causative agents, most affected local governments, preventive measures and treatment, please read our detailed story on it all here.
According to Abayomi, “400 cases of gastroenteritis have been recorded in health facilities in the affected LGAs (Local Government Areas). 370 of these cases have been treated and discharged. Unfortunately, we have also recorded 11 deaths due to the outbreak. The increase in number of cases of gastroenteritis is not unconnected to persistent rain with flooding of some LGAs in the state."
The health commissioner also announced the activation of emergency management centers by the Lagos state government to combat the outbreak.
“We have been very proactive in our response and management of the excess cases of vomiting and diarrhea occasioned by the outbreak. As part of our response, we have activated an Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) which is a command and control centre so that we can fine-tune logistics and resources around our response against the outbreak.
“Since the activation, the EOC which is made up of representatives from the Ministry of Health, Primary Health Care Board, Health Service Commission, Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA), World Health Organization and Central Public Health Laboratory amongst others, have been meeting on a daily basis; collating results, reviewing plans and interventions as well as suggesting and coordinating the implementation of measures to effectively curtail the spread of the disease and manage future occurrences promptly and effectively.
“The EOC is made up of sub thematic areas of research, surveillance, case management and infection control, laboratory, communication and advocacy, pharmacy, security as well as logistics and data management. Also, our disease surveillance officers at the state and local government levels are currently carrying out intensive surveillance to stop the spread of the disease.
“We have also put in place and still carrying out some measures and specific action plans like upgrade of infrastructure in our health facilities especially the PHC level; recruitment of more health workers; increasing the supply of drugs and consumables to health facilities; continuous clearing of drains and improving the supply of clean and potable water to residents, so that in the future, when we have this climatic situation where there are excessive rains, we should be in a better position to respond very quickly even in a very more efficacious way.
“Although Lagos is prone to seasonal infectious diseases like gastroenteritis because of its demography and low line mega-city nature, we will however not relent in our effort to respond to any waterborne or airborne outbreaks that may happen in our state whilst ensuring that citizens remain safe and healthy.”
Signs of gastroenteritis include severe acute watery diarrhea and profuse vomiting. Symptoms can last from 12 hours to a week after the patient has ingested contaminated food or water. The disease affects both children and adults and can kill within hours if left untreated.
“Members of the public are hereby advised to take precautionary measures by paying due attention to personal hygiene and environmental sanitation by keeping their environment clean, avoiding open defecation, ensuring drains are clean and imbibe the culture of regular hand washing.
“We encourage you to wash your hands with soap and water frequently and thoroughly, boil your water before drinking especially if the source is in doubt, wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating; cook food thoroughly and dispose waste material properly.
"You are advised to visit the nearest health facilities early when you are sick and avoid going to work or school where you are likely to infect others. “Health workers are also advised to take universal safety precautions when dealing with patients, practice good hand washing techniques and report any alarming increase in cases of gastroenteritis-vomiting and diarrhea to the Medical Officer of Health in their local government or the Directorate of Disease Control.
“For reports, clarification and more information on the outbreak of gastroenteritis, citizens and health workers can contact the Directorate of Disease Control through these lines: 08023169485 and 08023608195,” Abayomi added.
The Lagos state government says it has scaled up surveillance in communities within the affected local governments as it strives to stop the spread of the infection. Lagos is Nigeria's most populous city and economic capital. Some 20 million people reside in Lagos--a figure that poses infrastructural and health challenges for government and policy makers alike.
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