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NMA warns doctors against treating Lassa fever patients without protective gadgets

By Asmau Ahmad
The President of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Prof. Mike Ogirima, has advised doctors not to treat patients with traces of Lassa fever without protective gadgets.

In an interview with the newsmen on Monday in Abuja, Dr Ogirima expressed displeasure over the death of some doctors while trying to save lives of Lassa fever patients.

Prof. Mike Ogirima

The NMA president, who is a professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria, said that the association had lost four of its members in January to Lassa fever.

“This is a sad month in the country, particularly for health workers who lost their lives while trying to save lives of others.“This is because health workers are the first port of call in case of disease outbreak and they are not provided with the necessary gadgets in emergency rooms hence, these casualties.

“Medical practice entails that when you have contact with a patient, living one patient to the other, you have to disinfect your hands before touching another. “This is to avoid infecting another patient, but the reverse is the case,” he said. The NMA president described the development as “a pitiable situation’’.

Ogirima also decried the poor working environment of the doctors, saying that emergency rooms lacked optimal equipment that could protect doctors and other health workers from disease transmission.

“When patients are taking to emergency room, there are no examination gloves, hand sterilisers, among other protective gadgets. “None of my colleagues should attend to patients, if protective gadgets are not provided because it is risky,’’ the NMA president advised.

Ogirima, however, called for the provision of protective gadgets for its members and other health workers to forestall further death of doctors due to Lassa fever, among other infectious diseases.

Since the beginning of 2018, a total number of 107 suspected Lassa fever cases have been recorded in 10 states: Edo, Ondo, Bauchi, Nasarawa, Ebonyi, Anambra, Benue, Kogi, Imo and Lagos States.

As at January 21, the total number of confirmed cases is 61, with 16 deaths recorded. Ten healthcare workers have been infected in four states of Ebonyi 7,  Nasarawa 1, Kogi 1, and Benue 1, with three deaths in Ebonyi.

About Asmau Ahmad

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