By Chimezie Godfrey
The Chairman/CEO Musharak Esteem Nigeria Limited, DIG. Muhammed Katsina(rtd), mni has called on the government and all stakeholders to prioritize the fumigation and decontamination of the environment against Lassa fever that is killing more Nigerians than the COVID 19 pandemic.
This is coming on the heels of the recent commencement of the fumigation of all police schools across the country.
The CEO made the call over the weekend during an exclusive interview with Newsdiaryonline correspondent in Abuja.
DIG Katsina decried the fact that Lassa fever which has far more dangerous health implications than coronavirus is not being accorded the attention it deserves from the government.
He pointed out that coronavirus has a cure whereas Lassa fever has no known cure yet and kills faster than any other disease.
He, therefore, called on government, especially government at the grassroots level and all stakeholders to as a matter urgency embark on nationwide fumigation and decontamination of the Nigerian environment with a major focus on the rural environment.
He stressed that the reason why priority should be placed on rural areas is that this environment accommodates the poorest of the poor whose agricultural products feed the nation.
He said, “Why we decided to go into fumigation is not only within the context of what is happening now because the normal chorus you hear anywhere in the world is Covid-19. But there is one very serious deadly killer; deadlier than COVID-19 and we don’t seem to pay great attention to it, and that is Lassa fever.
“And we all know the carrying agent of it which is rat, which is a neighbour to any household. We see them in our kitchen, in our bedroom, where our children play, and even where we dry our fish, tomatoes and many other things because they need to come close to us in order to earn a living.
“But has any Nigerian taken the pain of conducting a research and understanding the cumulative catalog of diseases that these rodents leave behind? Nobody cares.
“Now, what we are doing is not only about what is happening now, it is about going beyond that to awaken the consciousness of Nigeria and Nigerians for them to understand that what we have been avoiding for long is really an issue that requires the collective action of each and everyone of us: Lassa fever.
“Now, when you see fumigation being carried out everywhere people are only doing that in anticipation or in the thinking that the fumigation will take care of the virus causing COVID-19 but some of us really don’t know whether the chemicals we apply are the necessary chemicals that will act as antidote.
“So we are now telling you that while we take off this Covid-19, we are also going beyond that frontier to advise, enlighten and inform members of the public that we need to do more.
“We seem not to worry because most fatalities occur in the grassroot level; the low-income earners, the poor people. The second one is that we don’t even think of having the necessary laboratory equipment to detect what and what not.
“And if you look at the food chain, in every household in Nigeria today. At least 80% of what we consume comes from the grassroots, the poor farmers that we neglect.”
DIG Katsina unequivocally pointed out that Lassa fever is killing more Nigerians than the COVID-19 pandemic that citizens are running away from.
“Lassa fever is killing more than COVID-19. Covid-19 is a Pandemic and everybody is running away from it because of the mass affliction. But the Lassa fever, once you have it, you see blood coming out of your eyes and it is so contagious that about seven doctors died in Kano because of an infected woman who was sick and nobody knew it was Lassa fever.
“This is something the government needs to take very seriously because it is a more serious threat to human life.
“Majority of the people dying are poor people and these are the same people feeding the nation so even what we eat from them cannot be trusted because we do not know how they are processed.
“Some will tell you they know somebody who ate beans and died because of chemicals used for storing it, but nobody will tell you that doctor has found out that it was Lassa fever,” he said.
The elder stateman urged the government and all Nigerians to declare war against rats and other rodents which are the major careers of Lassa fever and other deadly infectious diseases, by embarking on nationwide fumigation and decontamination of the environment.
He added that the government should have a reward system as done in China where each rat killed the killer was rewarded, adding that a rat killed is tantamount to saving a soul.
He equally advised Nigerians to breed cats in their homes as a way of eliminating rats and safeguarding their loved ones and other citizens from becoming victims of the deadly Lassa fever disease.
“The question is that some of us are yet to understand the consequences of this neglect; that is why there are rats everywhere and almost everybody is guilty of it.
“Not until we stand up and say this is a campaign, a period of emergency even encouraging households that whoever kills a rat should take it to the local government for it to be burnt and certain stipends given, then it will be a war. So that is my clarion call,” he stressed.