The Borno State Government has taken proactive steps, which have controlled the spread of Hepatitis E, brought into the state by refugees, who returned from ‘a neighbouring country into three local government areas of Borno.
The Borno State Commissioner for Health, Dr Haruna Mshelia, explained that out of the 457 suspected cases, only 39 were confirmed through laboratory tests, but with no Hepatitis E related death recorded.
Dr. Mshelia said the Ministry of Health was quick to silently set up a Rapid Response Team in June, which went to work as a result of which the disease did not go beyond the three out of the 27 local government areas of the State.
He said the Ministry decided against media coverage of the steps taken, in order not to cause panic and make the public assume that all fleeing victims of the Boko Haram insurgency were infected and as a result, stigmatize them.
Dr. Mshelia recalled that ten cases of Hepatitis E were first reported from Damasak, the headquarters of Mobbar Local Government Area in June, 2017, following th return of some residents who had fled to a neighbouring country.
“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.
Dr. Mshelia, noted that some refugees from Ngala and Monguno local government areas which also took refuge in the country in question, also had suspected Hepatitis E infection, out of which some were confirmed after laboratory tests, while theirs were pending.
“On receiving the report, the State Rapid Response Team, ( RRT) meeting was held on 15th June Chaired by myself, Commissioner of 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,” said Dr. Mshelia.
He said measures taken were applied in Monguno on with 19 suspected cases, where 4 came out positive.
The Borno State Health Commissioner said the dislodgement of toilet/pit latrines were ongoing in Monguno by the State Environmental Protection Agency in collaboration with partners, through the digging of final disposal sites.
He said in Ngala, there was community mobilization/sensitization, where both State and Unicef carried out several interventions in water supply, Toilet facilities, Shelters, general environmental sanitation, as well as spraying of Camps, identification and training of VCMs for health and hygiene promotion among the IDPs.