12 March 2018

Nigeria: Govt Is Providing Free Treatment for Lassa Fever Patients, Says NCDC

Photo: The Guardian
Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

Contrary to reports that the prohibitive cost of treating Lassa fever is engendering the spread and fatality of the disease in the country, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) yesterday said the federal and state governments had been providing free diagnosis, treatment and care for all the patients.

The Guardian investigation revealed that it costs at least N500,000 to treat a patient of Lassa fever with the drug-of-choice, Ribavirin.

The NCDC will today release the update on the outbreak that has affected 18 states with over 110 deaths and 1,121 cases.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, told The Guardian yesterday: " While we acknowledge the high cost of treating Lassa fever cases in Nigeria, especially the cost of the drug Ribavirin, we want to state unequivocally that the Federal Government has ensured that Ribavirin has been provided free-of-charge to patients, for every single case of Lassa fever reported in Nigeria in 2018.

"Despite the significant costs, there has not been a single day of stock-out of Ribavirin in any of the treatment centres in Nigeria. No single patient has been deprived of care in any of the treatment centres in Nigeria because of their ability to pay.

In addition to this, the NCDC has ensured that every state in Nigeria has an emergency stock of Ribavirin and other response commodities available to manage cases."

Ihekweazu said in addition to Ribavirin, the treatment centres have been provided with other essential commodities required for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of Lassa fever cases.

According to the epidemiologist, NCDC has rapid response teams, supporting the governments of Edo, Ondo and Ebonyi states for six weeks in all aspects of the response.

He said the three states with the highest burden of Lassa fever have also contributed significantly to the management of cases, ensuring that every patient received the best treatment possible.

"All three state governments have supported treatment centres with dialysis machines and other equipment necessary for the treatment of Lassa fever patients," Ihekweazu said.


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