The recent outbreaks of monkeypox, yellow fever, Lassa fever and cholera among others in Nigeria highlight the failure of all arms of government to provide effective disease surveillance, prevention, control and response strategies.
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Despite Nigeria’s reliability in times past to provide laboratory diagnostic services in support of disease surveillance activities, only a few laboratories are capable of reliable diagnosis today.
Some of the samples are sent outside the country for laboratory confirmation.
Outbreaks of different diseases are now common in the country.
Sadly, some Nigerians have died owing to the situation, while more would still suffer the same fate if nothing is done quickly.
Simple vaccination and an effective disease control system would have saved Nigerians from the needless deaths associated with the diseases.
According to epidemiologists, although, there is little improvement in disease surveillance, poor laboratory services and lack of commitment to health budget among others make early detection, prevention, treatment, and control impossible.
According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC report from 23 states, a total of 4,209 suspected Lassa fever cases were recorded in the first 42 weeks of this year.
Sadly, only 739 (17.6 percent) of these cases were confirmed by the laboratory.
In the same period, the number of suspected Lassa fever cases reported by 22 states was put at 2,761, only 539 (19. 5 percent) had laboratory confirmation.
Also, the World Health Organisation, WHO, in its epidemiological summary for Nigeria from January 1 to August 31, 2019, excluding the cases in Bauchi, revealed that a total of 2,254 suspected yellow fever cases have been reported in 535 Local Government Areas, LGAs.
All the 36 states including Federal Capital Territory (FCT) reported at least one suspected case of yellow fever.
The report said a total of 103 (74 presumptive positive and 29 inconclusive) samples were sent to yellow fever reference laboratory Institute Pasteur in Dakar (IPD) for confirmatory testing, of which 29 tested positive.
However, between August and November 2019, Nigeria has experienced an upsurge in cases of yellow fever with 511 suspected cases in three states.
The breakdown shows that 309 were recorded in Katsina, 162 in Bauchi, and 40 incidents were observed in Benue.
According to the latest NCDC report, of the samples tested from these cases, 83 were confirmed positive in Katsina, 43 in Bauchi and 6 in Benue.
This year, Katsina State has recorded 599 suspected cases, 43 confirmed cases and 77 deaths among suspected cases.
Also, Bauchi State has recorded 183 suspected cases, 34 confirmed cases and 24 deaths among suspected cases.
For monkeypox, as of September 9, 2019, NCDC said Nigeria continues to report sporadic cases of monkeypox after the index case was reported in September 2017.
A total of 81 suspected cases have been reported so far in 2019 of which 39 confirmed cases were recorded in nine states. In some states like Lagos, there is growing concern about the recent increase in the rate of gastroenteritis.
However, findings by Sunday Vanguard showed that several factors made it difficult to contain these diseases, especially Nigeria’s inability to produce vaccines locally.
The reliance on importation remains the bane of effective containment of the outbreak of hemorrhagic fevers in particular.
Currently, majority of the samples for some of the diseases are still being sent outside the country for confirmation due to lack of a national laboratory.