But for proactive steps taken by the Borno State Government, Hepatitis E, brought in by refugees who returned from ‘a neighboring country’, could have spread beyond three local government areas of Borno, the State’s Commissioner for Health, Dr Haruna Mshelia has said.
The Commissioner explained that a total of 457 suspected cases were reported out of which only 39 were cases those confirmed through laboratory tests with no Hepatitis E related death so far recorded. He said the disease has been put under control.
The Commissioner said his Ministry was quick to silently set up a Rapid Response Team in June which went to work as a result of which the disease didn’t go beyond the three out of the 27 local government areas of the State. He said his Ministry decided not to give media coverage to steps being taken in order to cause panic and not to make assume all fleeing victims of the Boko Haram insurgency were infected and as a result, stigmatize victims already traumatized.
Dr Mshelia recalled that ten cases of Hepatitis E were first reported from Damasak headquarters of Mobbar Local Government Area in June, 2017, following return of some residents who had fled to a country with land boarders to a neighboring. “We don’t want to mention the country so we don’t drag Borno and Nigeria into a diplomatic row with a country that helped in accommodating our citizens at a time of distress” he said.
He noted that some refugees from Ngala and Monguno local government areas which also took refuge in the particular country also has suspected Hepatitis E infection out of which some were confirmed after laboratory tests with others pending.
“On receiving the report the State Rapid Response Team (RRT) meeting was held on 15th June Chaired by myself. on Com Health. The team was deployed immediately to Damasak on 16/6/17 with the following activities: Distribution of aqua tabs with clear instructions on how to use; Assessment/Inspection of water sources/ quality and use of rapid water test kits to determine level of contamination; Distribution of Standard definition and treatment protocols to all clinicians and health workers; Strengthening of Surveillance for active case and screening at borders Damasak/Niger; Reviewing of clinic register and line listing of new cases.
WASH/BOSEPA interventions on water supply and toilet facilities; Meeting with all supporting partners for collaborative response; Involvement of WHO HTR teams,Field Volunteers,VCMs in response and Health promotion activities. All these measures were applied in Monguno on 23/6/17 with 19 suspected cases(4 positive case). Dislodgement of toilet/pitlatrines ongoing right now in Monguno by BOSEPA in collaboration with partners and sitting/digging of final disposal site.
For Ngala, State RRT and Partners alone with Ngala LGA RRT played great roles, community mobilisation/sensitisation, WASH both State and Unicef carried out several interventions in aspect of water supply, Toilet facilities, Shelters, general environmental sanitation by BOSEPA, spraying of Camps, identification and training of VCMs for health and hygiene promotion among IDPs” the Commissioner said.