Lassa Fever: Why There’s A Call To Declare A Health Emergency In Nigeria

Alarmed by a rapid spread of Lassa fever, the Nigerian Academy of Science is calling on government to declare a health emergency. Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP via Getty Images

By Doyin Odubanjo

The Nigerian Academy of Science has called for the current outbreak of Lassa fever in Africa’s most populous nation to be declared a national health emergency because of its severity. Adejuwon Soyinka asked Dr Doyin Odubanjo to unpack the background.

How serious is the current Lassa fever outbreak in Nigeria?

It is serious enough given the worsening trend. It has spread from just two states when it was first diagnosed in 1969 to 23 states in 2019. The situation has increasingly got worse over the years. In 2018, the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control reported the largest ever number of cases in Nigeria, with over 600 confirmed cases and over 170 deaths.

And the numbers have continued to rise. An alarm was raised over the tripling of the number of suspected cases between 2017 and 2018 only for the reported number of suspected cases to rise in 2019. Read more…

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