Pre-epidemic preparedness and the control of Lassa fever in Southern Nigeria
The outbreak of Viral Haemorrhagic Fevers (VHF) in the West African sub region in recent times had negative consequences on the health systems, international travels, movements and trades. Nigeria is still battling with a significant spread of Lassa Fever (LF) outbreak. The country seems not to have learnt from past epidemics most especially the 2014 Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak. After the declaration of Nigeria EVD free, most control arsenals were relaxed, isolation and quarantine structures were dismantled and preventive efforts such as provision of Personal Protective Equipments (PPE) for the use of the vulnerable health care workers were not sustained. Several search engines were used in surfing the internet while looking for literatures and systematic reviews on the epidemiology and control of Lassa fever in the West African sub-region, and narrowing down the search to Nigeria. This review presented findings from past outbreaks of Lassa fever in Nigeria and the control strategies adopted, including a review of several researches on the subject matter. Author also presented a framework of epidemic disease control for Lassa fever and other VHFs in line with WHO recommendations: It was observed that past epidemic control measures in Nigeria were not sustained, with little or no emphasis on preparedness. There should be a change in the past strategies employed by the health authorities. There is a need to establish a multi-sectoral epidemic preparedness team to create an enabling environment for managing epidemic alert and response as well as evaluating prevention and control, measures. Recommendations for the roles and responsibilities and modes of operation of such preparedness team were also made.
Key words: Lassa fever, Preparedness, Epidemics, Nigeria, Prevention and control.