My dear good people of Ondo State.
As some of you may have known, Ondo State like several others in Nigeria is currently experiencing an outbreak of Lassafever infection.
This is a highly serious infectious disease that has been with us in Nigeria for some years. It is a disease that is caused by an organism and spread to man by rats.
This outbreak has been occurring fairly regularly over many decades, unfortunately in the past few years it has increased in magnitude. Sadly, within the few weeks of this year, several scores have been affected and some had died from the disease.
We will like to use this opportunity to commiserate with families who have lost their loved ones, and we wish those who are on treatment a speedy recovery.
Although we have been faced with this challenge for several years yet we have not relented on adopting necessary measures to address it.
Specifically, our administration over the past one year has taken several steps to curtail this outbreak, these steps include:
Inaugurating a special multi-sectoral committee to address the outbreak, Embarking on aggressive waste management campaign, Provision of adequate human, financial and material resources to treat patients and follow up care of contacts and relatives Establishing and equipping the State Infectious Disease Hospital, Creating awareness and public enlightenment in affected communities.
In spite of all these efforts, the state still finds itself once again at the throes of another serious outbreak. One important reason for this is the fact that some of our citizens still indulge in habits that continue to encourage this disease to spread:
The poor attitude to waste disposal which leads to a sharp increase in rat population in many affected communities.
Bad and harmful food processing practices, such as sun-drying of garri and other products on the road, as well as other places which lead to their contamination by rat droppings.
Reluctance of those affected to access health care in designated treatment centres, Poor personal and domestic hygiene, Bush burning by farmers which drive the rats to our homes, Embalmment of corpses at home as well as other harmful cultural practices.
Unless these habits and practices are jettisoned, it will be very difficult for us to completely overcome the challenge that Lassa fever poses to us.
Currently, our government has stepped up efforts to sensitize the populace about the disease through massive community awareness creation. In addition government has continue to provide free treatment to all patients that present with this disease in our treatment centres.
We will like the public to note that this disease is totally treatable; indeed so far several patients have been treated and fully recovered. However, it is important for those affected to come early to hospitals, where experts can quickly make the correct diagnosis and treatment can be commenced early.
On our part, government is determined that the yearly occurrence of this outbreak is finally brought to end. In order to achieve this, the State government has already taken certain important steps:
We are aware that, in order to succeed we need the cooperation of the entire citizenry to ensure that we rid our homes and communities of dirt and the rats that now threaten our health. We count on the support of all our traditional and religious leaders to join hands with government in achieving this goal.
We like to express appreciation of government to all Health Care Workers and other professionals who are at the frontline of this fight against Lassa fever. We will continue to prioritize their welfare and safety in the discharge of their duties.
Once again we will like to reiterate our total commitment to ensure that Ondo state people live a healthy and fulfilled life.
Thank you and God bless you.