The Federal Ministry of Water Resources said it would promote handwashing culture in public places to halt the spread of Lassa fever outbreak in the country. The Director, Water Quality Control and Sanitation in the ministry, Emmanuel Awe, made this known in Abuja.
Awe said that with the recent outbreak of Lassa fever in parts of the country, the ministry has started advocacy among its partners to see how the promotion of handwashing culture with soap, water or ash in public places would be achieved. Awe said that frequent washing of hands at critical times such as this was key to fighting the spread of diseases.
“We are going to start an awareness campaign on promoting handwashing with soap or ash and water as we all know our hands have a way of passing germs into our body. The ministry will see how the gains recorded during the last Ebola outbreak will be harnessed, how we emphasised handwashing culture at all times.”
Also, the National Coordinator, Society for Water and Sanitation, Benson Attah, said that as the dry season starts, there was the possibility of having rampant cases of diseases such as Lassa fever.
“As the weather is changing, so are those things that affect our health. We see the need for continuous sensitisation because it is not just Lassa fever after some time now, we will hear of a cholera outbreak and already we now hear of coronavirus in Asia.
“We are hoping that it will not get into the country, hence the need to keep up with the handwashing culture, there are also some kinds of behavioural practices that people, especially at the grassroots should do.
“Citizens should focus on behavioural change, remember that time when we had Ebola outbreak, everyone was ready to wash their hands and do all sorts just to stay clean, immediately we heard that Ebola was defeated, we all went back to our normal lives.’
“We have started the discussion in the area of providing health education and awareness creation in communities, this has helped us to see that being proactive will help us to minimise the impact of such outbreak, reduce cost and unnecessary deaths.”
Lassa fever is largely transmitted through contact with items or surfaces contaminated with urine, faeces, saliva or blood of infected rats. It can also be transmitted from person-to-person through contact with blood, urine, faeces and other body fluids of an infected person.
To minimise the risk of infection, members of the public are advised to ensure their environment is always kept clean to avoid contact with rodents. Early symptoms include fever, headache, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, sore throat etc. It is in very severe cases that the patient bleeds from body openings.