Lawmakers summon minister as monkeypox outbreak spreads

Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole


• Suspected case in Enugu, ‘none in Ogun’
• Bite creates fear in 3.4m Ondo residents
• Osun, Oyo move against disease

Disturbed by the palpable anxiety in the country, the House of Representatives has summoned the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, over the monkeypox epidemic. Adopting a motion sponsored by Diri Duoye at plenary presided over by Speaker Yakubu Dogara yesterday in Abuja, the lawmakers mandated the House Committee on Health to probe the outbreak and report back in two weeks for further legislative action.

The chamber noted that the summoning of the minister was informed by the need to put in place an active surveillance and rapid case detection measure to contain the infectious disease and avert future outbreaks.

The House particularly wondered why a country as vast as Nigeria had to depend on a laboratory in Dakar, Senegal to carry out analysis of samples at such a critical time of national health crisis.

It commended the Bayelsa State government for putting in place appropriate measures to check the spread of the epidemic, urging the Federal Government to assist the state in reaching out to waterlogged communities threatened by the disease.Duoye, who represents Yenagoa Federal Constituency of the state, singled out Governor Seriake Dickson for commendation owing to big role he played in offsetting bills of patients and ensuring their welfare.

He called for concerted efforts to avert the spread of the disease beyond his home state, Akwa Ibom, Anambra and Lagos states. However, a suspected case of virus has been discovered in Enugu, with the state government asking residents not to panic. Already, collected specimens had been sent to the National Centre for Disease Control, Abuja for analysis.

The Commissioner for Health, Dr. Fountain Ekochin, who confirmed the development yesterday in Enugu, said victim, who resides in the city centre, would remain isolated until the result of the test was out.

Also yesterday, the Ogun government dismissed the report credited to the disease control centre citing the state as one of those infested by the virus.The Commissioner for Health, Babatunde Ipaye, told newsmen in Abeokuta that there was no such occurrence in the state.He said an officer from the State Hospital, Ijebu Ode noticed skin lesion from a patient who was at the facility for another “primary reason,” adding that the case did not qualify as a suspected case of the infectious disease.

Meanwhile, the biting by the causative animal of a middle-aged woman (identity withheld) in Akure South Local Council has created panic in over 3.4 million residents and exposed them to the infection.

The Guardian gathered yesterday that the woman sustained the bite while trying to feed the pet at the weekend.According to a reliable source in the neighbourhood, “she did not take the monkey bite so seriously until Sunday evening when she started feeling some pains and discomfort.”

Efforts to reach the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Wahab Adegbenro for comments in view of the publicity the incident has generated were futile as he neither picked his calls nor responded to messages sent to his mobile phone.

Besides, the Osun State government yesterday said necessary measures had been put in place to avert the coming of the virus. The Commissioner for Health, Dr. Rafiu Isamotu, told a press conference in Osogbo that three centres had been created to tackle the disease in the event of an outbreak.Also, the Oyo State government has raised a surveillance team to sensitise the residents on the zoonotic disease.

The Deputy Director, Public Health, Ministry of Health, Dr. Taiwo Oladipo said in Ibadan that all health officials across the 33 local councils and relevant agencies in the state had been directed to conform immediately.

In this article:
Isaac Adewole


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