The Ondo State Government may have spent not less than N179.2million in the treatment of persons infected with Lassa fever in the state since the outbreak of the disease in January.
This is even as the death toll in the state has increased from 16 to 20 persons in the last week.
At the outbreak of the disease earlier in January, 84 persons were infected by the virus with 16 persons dead.
But the state’s Epidemiologist, Stephen Fagbemi, confirmed on Wednesday that the record is now 20 dead and 112 cases recorded.
The Ondo State Government has blamed the increase in the reported cases on the entrants of patients from neighbouring states who wanted to benefit from Ondo’s free treatment.
“We are having a high figure because Ondo State is the only state that the treatment of Lassa fever is free of charge,” Wahab Adegbenro, the Ondo State Commissioner for Health, said.
“I think we are having people coming from other areas for free treatment.”
The areas of high prevalence include Akoko South-West, Ose, Owo, Akure South and Ondo West Local government areas.
Mr Adegbenro told PREMIUM TIMES in a telephone conversation on Thursday that it was costing the state government N1.6million to treat a patient.
With 112 persons current undergoing treatment, the cost of treatment would come to N179.2million.
Mr Adengbero, however, said the state government was getting support from some donor agencies which had made it possible for the state to deliver treatment free of charge.
The government spent the same amount in treating patients when the disease broke out last year.
A total of 115 cases were recorded in 2019 with 21 deaths.
“It is the same amount we are spending in the treatment of the cases,” Mr Adegbenro said.
“The amount covers drugs, feeding and other needs of the patients.”
The governor, Rotimi Akuredolu, and the heads of relevant agencies held an emergency meeting to review the situation and came up with measures to stem the spread of the disease.
At the time, it was reported that medical facilities at the Federal Medical Centre, Owo, and other facilities in Akure, the state capital, were already overstretched.
Mr Fagbemi had given a detailed breakdown of the situation after the meeting with the governor.
The meeting also involved local government chairpersons from Ondo North and Central senatorial districts at the governor’s office in Akure.
Mr Fagbemi said the fatalities were because the cases had reached advanced stages before they were presented at the hospitals.
He said some patients were still hospitalised, while some others had been treated and discharged.
Earlier, Mr Akeredolu advised local government chairpersons in the state to deploy cleaners to markets and public places while residents should maintain a high level of hygiene to curtail the spread of the Lassa virus in the state.
He had lamented that the disease had continued to reoccur in the state due to the unhygienic practices of residents in the affected communities.
He said the government had deployed the necessary resources and manpower to track the disease, urging the residents to adopt recommended health measures to ensure the end of the disease.
Author: Josiah Oluwole