By Muhammad Auwal
Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi, says a cleaner Lagos environment will reduce the spread of communicable diseases and ensure a healthy living in the state.
Abayomi, who is a specialist in Internal Medicine, Oncology, Environmental Health and Biosecurity, said this in an interview with newsmen in Abuja.
“Emphasis so far has been on HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria, while we have been neglecting to some extent, viral hepatitis.
The Hepatitis disease refers to an inflammatory condition of the liver. It’s commonly caused by a viral infection, but there are other possible causes of hepatitis.
These include autoimmune hepatitis and hepatitis that occurs as a secondary result of medications, drugs, toxins, and alcohol.
According to him, the government of Lagos state will now be paying more attention to viral hepatitis to make sure that we start a push back on its spread.
“We do not want to be caught off guard because of the peculiarity of the Lagos state environment, and bearing in mind that hepatitis are slow pathogens,” he said..
The public health expert described Lagos state as a megacity, which required adequate attention in its health infrastructure because of its demographic profile.
“It has several wards and local government areas where the population density is quite high.
“This will put pressure on the system; access to clean water, ventilation and sewage. These are the factors that create environment for rapid dissemination of infectious diseases,” he said.
According to him, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is determined to take steps to curtail the emergence of new pathogens which are hitherto unknown.
He said that the Lagos environment was perfect for such pathogens to thrive.
“HIV and viral hepatitis, for instance, are slow, you catch it and it does it damages very slowly and goes for over months and years.
“Whereas something like Ebola or Lassa fever are fast viruses; so when you contract viruses like that they start to work very quickly to cause damage in your body system, and if something is not done it could become severe, and even lead to death,” he explained.
Abayomi said the state government was going to build infrastructures and human resources to cope with slow pathogens and also to be ready for the fast pathogens.
“A flu pandemic, which is airborne, can spread very quickly through a crowded environment where there are multiple people inside a room, house or where multiple people breathe in the same air.
“A flu or Meningitis type of pathogens would spread quickly,” he said.
The Commissioner added that even within the fast pathogens there were different attributes that were responsible for the manner in which they spread from person to persons.
He stated that these were all the factors that the Lagos state government had to bear in mind.
Abayomi disclosed that the state government was working on building infrastructures, surveillance, contact tracing and containment on human resources and pandemic preparedness in Lagos state.