Image Source: Facebook
The Death of Dr. Idowu Victor Ahmed a house officer who unknowingly contacted lassa fever from treating a seven months old baby at Federal Medical Center lokoja on the 21st of January 2018 received great disapproval from the general public, who are of the opinion that the federal government has not been committed to the fight against this deadly disease.
Members of the health community and the general public are in doubt as to the government’s commitment to tackle lassa fever which has affected more than 10 states in Nigeria with Imo and Anambra being the latest.
The government has in the past denied that lassa fever is seasonal but it’s intense reocurrence in 2018 has raised doubts.
A group advocating for an end to lassa fever in memorial of Dr. Ahmed and many other health workers such as Dr. Ali Felix, Dr. Abel Sunday Udoh and many other Nigerians who died at the Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki has called on youths to advocate for an end to lassa fever and more funding for containing the virus and enlightenment of the general public.
Unlike ebola which received a special intervention fund of N 1.9 billion fromantic the former president Goodluck Jonathan, much has not been given to the fight against lassa fever which has killed more Nigerians than ebola.
The group in a statement by its representative chijioke ifediora, Esq., noted that virology centers should be in all 36 states or the 6 geopolitical zones, stressing that Nigeria has the resources to provide such facilities.
A full text of a public statement by the group advocating for an end to lassa fever is published below.
JUSTICE FOR DR. IDOWU VICTOR AHMED (IVA)
A PUBLIC HEALTH ADVOCACY CAMPAIGN IN HONOR OF HEALTH WORKERS AND NIGERIANS DYING OF LASSA FEVER.
How health workers and Nigerians are paying the price of poor health care system.
Dr. Idowu Victor Ahmed, a University of Nigeria, Alumni who until his death was a house officer at the Federal Medical Centre, Lokoja, Kogi state where he treated a child who unknown to him had lassa fever has in his memorial amongst others this public health advocacy to end lassa fever and demand for better health system.
You or any of your loved ones may fall victim of lassa fever. For this reason a social media advocacy for better health standards, enlightenment and funding becomes a crucial instrument for coercing public inquiry. This is not a political movement neither is it a religious one but rather a movement for social justice. The government’s attitude towards containing lassa fever is poor, in addition to low funding for lassa fever research, massive corruption and looting of funds made available by foreign donor agencies for procurement of equipment.
The two laboratories that are currently operational for the test of Lassa Fever are Virology laboratory, Lagos University Teaching Hospital and Lassa fever research and control centre, Irrua specialist hospital, Edo State. In a country of over 170 million and 36 states.
The terrible thing about this is; if you report to any health or medical centre for an illness they will give you conventional treatment by running regular test of which lassa fever will not be among because they don’t have the facility or the expertise. If on the long run the symptoms becomes patent that is most likely to be lassa fever, the doctors will send your sample or specimen to Edo or Lagos the only two centres in the entire country of 170 million people, for confirmation whether the patient is lassa fever positive. This will take time considering the distance and the bureaucracy. This has been the case. Lassa fever can be prevented from being terminal if discovered on time, such discovery will be impossible with out the required equipment.
WHY SHOULD THIS CONCERN ME?
In 2016 Budget Health got N221.7 billion. In 2017 budget the total sum of N304 billion was proposed for the Federal Ministry of Health, amounting to 83 percent for recurrent expenditures (salaries and overheads) and 17 percent for capital expenditure (health infrastructures and services).
The 2017 Health budget is 4.17 percent of the national budget, a poor improvement on the 2016 budget of 4.13 percent.
The Government intends to spend N340. 45 billion on health sector in 2018. A closer look at the budget showed that the government plans to spend N1,888 on each citizen for the whole year.
This is less than the amount Nigerians spend on medical tourism abroad which is estimated at N359.2 billion annually.
However, On Tuesday 9th January’s 2018, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, appeared before the House of Representatives’ Committee on G2overnmental Affairs, the committee is chaired by Mr. Husseini Suleiman-Kanagiwa. Mustapha appeared before the committee to review the 2017 budget of his office and defend the estimates for 2018.
The SGF’ s office had a total budgetary allocation of N9.5bn in 2017.
It was broken into N3.4bn for personnel cost; N3.6bn for overheads; and N2.4bn for capital projects. For 2018, the SGF office’s total budget proposal is N9.8bn. It is divided into N3.9bn for overheads; N3.3bn for personnel cost and N2.4bn for capital projects. In addition to other proposals, the SGF informed the committee that the sum of N65m would be spent in 2018 to build a government website.
The committee said they could not comprehend how N18.3m would be used to buy only 27 Mac Book laptop computers in 2018. Other major expenditure heads in 2018 were N1.7bn for “political officers and standing committees,” N760.2m for “honorarium and sitting allowance,” and N133.4m for “welfare packages.”
Coming against a barrage of questions from lawmakers, the SGF explained that the laptop computers were meant for the Council Chambers at the Aso Rock Villa. He claimed that they would be installed to perform specialised functions. ( See Punch Newspaper January 10th 2018, titled “ FG monetises N280m cars for Obasanjo, Gowon, Jonathan, others”)
This is not an expository for you to engage in political battle against the government but for you to understand that there is enough to solve the problem and for you to understand the basics of this advocacy and why you should lend your voice on social media and if possible speak to public officials.
Nothing stops the federal government from placing a virology centre in all 36 states or at least the 6 geopolitical zones.
Lassa fever is proving difficult for the federal government to contain. Lassa fever is presently in 10 states including in Kogi, Benue, Nassarawa, Bauchi, Edo, Ondo, Ebonyi , Imo and Anambra.
Lassa fever has continued to reoccur in an intense progression since the last quarter of 2017 till date. The government has refused to fund it’s prevention, containment and enlightenment rather they are pledging to pay the burial expenses for the victims who lost their lives including doctors like Dr. Idowu Victor Ahmed (IVA) a University of Nigerian alumni who offered to treat a child who unknown to him was infected. Including Dr . Ali Felix and Dr. Abel Sunday Udoh who died of Lassa fever at the Teaching Hospital in Abakaliki.
WHAT WILL IT COST YOU?
Nothing! Only your comments, your posts, uploading or sharing images on all your social media handles, mostly , whatsapp, twitter, Facebook and instagram. using the hash tags, in support of this advocacy and joining the conversations on social media in an intense manner that will raise public inquiry in to ending deaths by lassa fever.
In a context, where we don’t have the choice to engage in civil disobedience or carry out any other action to register our resentment, we have the freedom to express out thoughts, disaffection and our belief in what is right. In answer thereof, the result to this advocacy or movement for social justice starts with our actions.
It could be you, it could be I, it could be anybody. This advocacy for social justice is an expression of our commitment to a common humanity. We should quit the attitude of trivializing tragedies.
Nigerian government must learn to value human life.
Kindly support this movement from the 29th of January to the 3rd of February 2018 on social media.
Chijioke Ifediora, Esq.
On behalf of “Justice for Dr. Idowu Victor Ahmed (IVA) Team”
(Twitter/ Instagram @ Chijioke Ifediora)
Metro Times is a non-profit independent news media committed to in-depth information about social issues, politics, technology, sports, entertainment and religion across the Globe.
We encourage and are committed to investigative and analytical reports on any subject matter.
Send your breaking news, articles for publication with pictures and bio data, and any relevant information to email@example.com