The Federal Government says treatment for Lassa fever remains free and urged members of the public to disregard news to the contrary.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said this in a statement on Sunday.
The NCDC boss disclosed this in a reaction to newspaper reports that the high cost of treating Lassa fever was responsible for the high mortality rate recorded so far in the country.
He said the Federal Government had ensured that Ribavirin, the major drug used for the treatment of Lassa fever, had been provided free-of-charge to patients, “for every single case of Lassa fever reported in Nigeria.”
The statement read in part, “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 of Nigeria 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. In addition to this, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has ensured that every state in Nigeria has an emergency stock of Ribavirin available to manage cases.”
He said in addition to Ribavirin, the treatment centres had been provided with other essential commodities required for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of Lassa fever cases.
Ihekweazu added that the NCDC had rapid response teams supporting the state governments of Edo, Ondo and Ebonyi for six weeks in all aspects of the response.
The statement added, “The state governments of Edo, Ondo and Ebonyi, with the highest burden of Lassa fever, have also contributed significantly to the management of cases, ensuring that every single 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.”