In the wake of the recent epidemic outbreak of Monkey pox, Lassa fever, and meningitis in Nigeria, medical experts say a critical factor increasing the risk of its spread is poor living condition and return to old habits as soon as the epidemic is contained.
The Ebola epidemic which ravaged parts of Nigeria in 2015 saw the influx of diverse products like hand-washing soaps, gloves, health personnel protective equipment, hand-held infrared thermometer, among others, to help check the virus but patronage of these products has declined.
“Effective surveillance is clearly important, containment and general precautions measure will minimise risk of viral transmission” said Oladoyin Odubanjo chair, Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria (APHPN), Lagos Chapter.
Odubanjo said “All we need to do is to practice more universal care precautions at all times generally and avoid reverting to old habits. People need to practice more hygiene, which is very important and the environment needs to be cleaner.”
“We have to be very careful with our living condition and the government needs to improve in assisting states with epidemic so as to live well” Odubajo said.
Similarly, Yusuf Larne, a medical practitioner at The Lister Medical Centre Lagos says, “It is a natural human behaviour whenever there is distress, humans naturally find a way out of the distress as soon as the pressure is removed, people relax. When people are afflicted with an infection, they take precautions and quickly abandon them after they feel better.”
Lanre says we have to imbibe the habits of washing our hands often; prevention of exposure to epidemic cannot be over emphasised, calling for a consistent programme to deepen vaccination across the country to prevent an epidemic in the first place.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) recently recorded 86 suspected cases of monkey pox affecting 11 states in the country and last year recorded the largest outbreaks of Lassa fever in its history between 2015 and 2016, with 273 reported cases resulting to 149 deaths.
However, the NCDC recently called for basic and general hygiene as means to contain the spread of monkey pox and has advised health workers to have high index of suspicion while handling patients and to apply universal care precautions.
“There must be regular, repetitive reminders through teaching, practice, discussions and integrations of the salient points before people adopt the new behaviour,” said Chris Bode the chief medical director and consultant paediatric surgeon Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi Araba.
Bode added, “After all, most of the values we hold dear today were similarly validated and revalidated till they became tenets we simply follow because we are taught they are good.”