How are we fighting with a disease outbreak as documented as Yellow fever in 2018, and how are we losing?
2017 was a trying year for the Nigerian healthcare industry. Apart from a slew of viral epidemics compounding our usual annual disease outbreaks and the slew of Nigerian doctors either relocating or planning to relocate to other countries, we were acutely reminded just how close we are to an all-out collapse of healthcare in the country. Of all the epidemics we struggled to control in 2017, the Monkey pox was the true threat, it spread to about 20 states of the federation and took about 30 lives, the highest number of epidemic related deaths recorded in the year with Zamfara State being the worst hit.
At the worst of the epidemic, Governor Abdulaziz Abubakar Yari gave a statement where he alleged the Monkey Pox epidemic as an “act of god”. It’s worthy of note that the disease first came into national prominence in the year 1978, claimed few individuals and lay dormant until a resurgence last year. We had nearly 40 years to prepare for a resurgence of a virus and it still blindsided the Nigerian CDC. When governor Yari makes such ill-informed statements, it offers a glimpse into the kind of incompetence we can expect in the coming years.
In September 2017, the Federal Government confirmed the outbreak of the Yellow Fever disease in Kwara state. The viral hemorrhagic disease transmitted by infected Aedes mosquitoes affected a young girl at Oke Owa, in Ifelodun Local Government Area of the state. As the government paid a lip service to the Monkey Pox outbreak, the same thing is about to happen as it relates to the Yellow Fever disease.
In its latest report, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) disclosed that the disease has spread to sixteen states of the federation with nine deaths after the September confirmation. This is following the same trend as the Monkey Pox.
As much as government has failed in its September 2017 promise to contain the spread of the disease, the main crux is that the Ministry of Health has never prepared itself for any medical emergency as the research centres are not functioning optimally as expected, also, the funding for the Ministry is inadequate as a result it has affected the research process.
The test confirmation for the first Yellow Fever suspect in Kwara state was taken from Nigeria to Senegal. This shows how poor our health facilities has become. We need to the needs of our health industry with the same level of urgency we do for amnesty reparations for militants and constituency projects.