11 October 2017
By Chidiebere Ejike
The House of Representatives, Tuesday, summoned the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, over the outbreak of monkeypox in the country just as the National Centre for Disease Control confirmed that 31 cases of the disease had been recorded in the country.
Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, the National Coordinator/Chief Executive Officer of the agency, had disclosed that monkeypox cases had been reported in seven states – Bayelsa, Rivers, Ekiti, Akwa Ibom, Ogun, River and Lagos.
At its plenary in Abuja, presided over by the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, the House raised alarm that the disease was spreading very fast while it appeared that the Federal Ministry of Health was helpless without relying on the World Health Organisation, WHO.
Mr. Diri Douye, a lawmaker from Bayelsa State, raised the issue under matters of urgent national importance, praying that the minister should be summoned and this was immediately passed in a unanimous voice vote.
The lawmakers were shocked by Adewole’s admittance that Nigeria appeared helpless in the situation and expressed concern that a country, as big as Nigeria, did not have a laboratory to respond to the health emergency without first sending specimen to Dakar, Senegal, for investigations.
The House motion read in parts, “The House is concerned by the shocking admission of Adewole that monkeypox could not be confirmed in Nigeria until laboratory investigations by WHO and referral to Dakar, Senegal.
“Again, we are concerned that the disease has spread to other states, notably Uyo in Akwa Ibom State, in spite of concerted efforts by the Bayelsa State Government since the initial report in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.”
The Minister of Health is to explain the actions taken so far by the Federal Government to contain the spread of the disease.
The resolution stated, “The House invites the minister of health to explain the alarming situation of how a country, as vast and resourced as Nigeria, will depend on a laboratory in Dakar, Senegal, to analyze samples at such a critical time of national health crisis.
“To explain what measures and strategies the country has in place to be more proactive in the active surveillance and rapid case detection of cases for the prevention and containment of monkeypox as well as other viruses in future.”
The House commended the Bayelsa State Government for its “quick intervention and collaborative efforts” so far.
Also, the Senate urged the Federal Government to liaise with WHO and other donor agencies as Nigeria continued the fight against monkeypox and to be proactive in containing and preventing the disease from spreading beyond where it had been reported.
The lawmakers also called for aggressive enlightenment and education of the citizens on measures that could be taken to mitigate risk factors of exposure to the virus, while seeking a sustained public health education messages through media platforms.