Worried by the wide spread of Lassa fever, the Group, Social Mobilization Technical Committee (SOMTEC) on UNICEF Programme in Ebonyi state on Friday embarked on campaign against Lassa fever disease to Girls Secondary School Azuiyiokwu Abakaliki.
The team used the period to sample students’ knowledge on Lassa fever virus through questionnaires.
UNICEF Desk Officer, ministry of Information and State Orientation in the State, Mrs. Chineye Azu Udu, enlightened the students about Lassa fever disease as well as cholera, yellow fever and the best way to avoid contacting them is by maintaining proper hygiene and urged the students to ensure that their hostels are kept neat.
She told them to be conscious of what they expose themselves to, the food they eat and to ensure proper hygiene.
Mrs. Udu said, “There is an emergency which needs enlightenment, that is why we’re here today. There exist the Lassa fever disease which has continued to spread, cholera and coronavirus. You have to be conscious of what you do at any point in time, especially this period. That is why we want to enlighten you so that you will be armed with information on how to go about protecting yourselves and your family members.”
A resource person, Dr. Ifeayinwa Okeke, of the department of Community Medicine, Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki (AE-FUTHA), noted that 95% of Lassa fever disease can be averted through constant washing of hands with running water and soap or ashes.
Dr Okeke urged the students to go home and spread the message to their family members, friends and neighbours, stressing that currently there is no vaccination for the disease but medical studies are on going to discover one.
She also educated the students on the proper way to wash their hands.
Dr Okeke said, “Lassa fever doesn’t have vaccination for now, but studies are ongoing to develop vaccines, these studies are ongoing in Ebonyi, Edo and Ondo State.”
She said that suspected patient are always taken to observation bay at AE-FUTHA, that is where the blood sample will be taken and sent to virology centre, but Ebonyi people need to take precautionary measure as the state is endemic to the virus.
She said, “Try and prevent rats from coming into your homes, from touching what you eat, bush burning should not be done, I know a lot of people do bush burning, but for now it should stop, spreading food on the floor. Let’s not forget hand washing. Hand washing have been known to help prevent a lot of infection including this Lassa fever we are talking about”.
Agwu Benson Okoro, an Environmental Health Professional, also from AE-FUTHA told the students to always maintain proper hygiene because it is one of the major ways to prevent the deadly disease.
He maintained that the disease must be prevented as our brothers and sisters are dying of Lassa fever and food hygiene should be maintained.
Agwu challenged the students to join the community health workers in SOMTEC and take the message to their homes as they proceed on midterm break.
In a remark the School principal, Mrs. Onwuegbuna G.N called for donation of hand sanitizer to the School. She thanked the team for bringing the message to the students as knowledge is power.
Some of the students, Ifeoma Igwe, JSS 3, student said she learnt a lot, especially from the projected images on the devastating conditions Lassa fever’s victims found themselves.
She promised to take the message home and to start practicing what she was taught, while Nkiruka Ogodo, SS2, said she will also spread the message and to ensure that she observes good hygiene.