Nigerian doctors may begin to stop attending to patients that have Lassa fever if they are not given the proper equipment to safeguard themselves, BBC reports.
Dr. Mike Ozovehe Ogirima, president of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) disclosed that eight doctors had passed away of the disease since the commencement of the year after contracting it from patients.
He issued the stern warning as the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) gave its latest figures which showed that Lassa fever has now spread to over 20 states in Nigeria, killing 142 people since January.
Dr. Ogirima said the authorities should do more than just “enough” so that they can end the outbreak.
Lassa fever is transmitted to humans through food and objects that are being contaminated with rodent urine or faeces.
Health Minister Isaac Adewole told reporters that the federal government was putting in more resources and effort in order to tackle the outbreak.
He admitted the federal government was worried about the increase in the number of health practitioners that have contacted the disease.
“It represents a new dimension because for doctors and others it is human-to-human [transmission]. But we are confident that in the next one or two months everything will fizzle out.”
Most people who contracted Lassa fever will have only mild symptoms such as fever, headache, and general weakness.
However, in most cases, it can lead to another deadly haemorrhagic fever, Ebola, that can cause bleeding through the mouth, nose, and other parts of the body.
Some few days back, the demise of a young doctor has sparked an intense debate on social media in Nigeria. The female resident passed away of Lassa fever in the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia, in the eastern Abia State.
One fellow doctor took to his social media to make it known she was no longer prepared to risk her life without the government providing right protective equipment.
To give her support, Dr. Adebayo Sekunmade – who is president of the Association of Resident Doctors at Lagos University Teaching Hospital – said equipment needed was simply not available.
“The fact that the hazard allowance is a joke is not something that will encourage doctors to make sacrifices for their patients. In that light, I think most doctors think twice before attending to patients with Lassa fever and other potentially dangerous conditions in patients.”
But the medical director of the hospital where the young doctor died defended their systems, saying it was the first death they had recorded.
“We observe universal safety precaution and all we are trying to do also is to review and strengthen what is already available in the hospital,” he said.