● Kogi State Ministry of Health has a well-established pattern of internal information communication as far as disease outbreak is concerned. We have focal persons (informants) in strategic locations across the State who pass the information on Diseases of public Health interest to the Disease Surveillance and Notification Officer (DSNO) at the Local Government level. The DSNO LG then transfers this report through the DSNO (SMOH) to the State Epidemiologist who in turn brings such cases to my attention. By implication, we are kept abreast at all times of happenings in every part of the State. It is therefore unlikely that an incident, the magnitude as reported will pass unnoticed.
● However, with the recent press release from Enugu State Commissioner for Health, confirming an outbreak of Yellow Fever in the State, we sent a Rapid Response Team from Kogi State Ministry of Health (accompanied by WHO) to Ette communities that share borders with Enugu State, without waiting for the usual channel of communication as a proactive measure. This team was to clarify and investigate the situation on the ground.
● The team on arrival (on 07/11/2020) met with the leadership of the community, health workers, Hospitals (public and private) and held meetings with the people during which they conducted massive Health education on how to prevent Yellow fever spread.
We also made available our Rapid Response toll-free lines to the people of the community as well as Health workers and heads of institutions, to draw our attention to any occurrence of strange deaths or deaths occurring in excess of what was the norm. As at this moment, nobody has reached out to us. As a matter of fact, we have been having Telephone conversations with our contacts in that region, and there was no report of any mysterious death or outbreak of strange disease in Kogi State.
● Yellow Fever outbreak is one we are acquainted with in the State and ever ready to prevent. We had an outbreak in Okoloke axis of Yagba-West Local Government area in 2017 during which we vaccinated all the people in the region and adjoining communities in Kogi and Kwara States. Eventually, in 2018, we had Yellow fever vaccination for all eligible persons across the State.
● In all these, we thank our Health Development Partners and FGN for their collaboration. We intend to go back to the community to vaccinate persons who may have missed out on the 2018 vaccination. Yellow fever vaccination offers protection for up to 10 years. Afterwards, booster doses may then be required for those travelling to areas where Yellow fever is endemic.
● In addition, we have a robust and efficient Public Health Emergency Operations Center which is one of the best in African Sub-Region. It has the capacity to receive reports of outbreaks in real-time. We also have a social media monitoring software that scans the Social media for rumours of disease outbreaks and brings it to our attention. Our track record shows that we have a lot of experience in handling disease outbreaks and prevention of disease spread, a feat we intend to keep working on for even greater perfection.
● We, therefore, wish to use this medium to allay the fears of the people, advising them to go about their normal businesses and report any case of strange illness or death to us through our dedicated Toll-free lines as has been circulated. They should rest assured that the Government of His Excellency Alh. Yahaya Bello remains committed to putting their Health first as always and will continue to support the State Ministry of Health to put every machinery in place to protect them from Yellow fever and any other disease outbreak.
● We, however, encourage our people to play their part by maintaining personal and environmental hygiene and prevent Mosquito bites through clearance of surroundings, use of Insecticide-treated nets, clearance of drainages and prevention of water lodging around residential areas.
DR SAKA HARUNA AUDU