To reduce the burden of infectious diseases in Nigeria, which reports said were on the increase, healthcare professionals in the country and their counterparts in the Diaspora, have called on Nigerians to embrace good personal hygiene and environmental practices to halt the spread of diseases like malaria, typhoid, cholera, meningitis and Ebola, among others.
According to them, regular hand washing with soap alone, based on scientific findings would go a long way in reducing the spread of infectious diseases both at home and in the hospital environment.
The experts made the call at the First Inaugural Lecture of the Global Infectious Diseases Initiative with the theme: “Infectious Diseases; Awareness & Mediation through Collaboration” organised in Lagos recently by the initiative in collaboration with the College of Medicine, University of Lagos.
Convener of the initiative, United States based Dr. Folarin Olubowale said the initiative is a non-governmental organisation he established in Columbus, Georgia, USA, in 1997, to tackle infectious diseases across the globe and Nigeria his home country in particular, through awareness creation and collaboration among healthcare practitioners and institutions in the field of infectious diseases.
Olubowale said that improved personal hygiene and a very good environment help in controlling infectious diseases.
“Good sewage drainage system, being health cautious and regular hand washing with soap are good interventions that could control the spread of infectious diseases”, he said.
Giving insight into what the NGO will do for the country in its fight against infectious diseases, Olubowale said they decided to do this, to bring about awareness on infections in the country and explore possibilities of collaborating with all healthcare providers who are interested in infectious disease with the aim of developing the field of infectious disease in the country.
“We want to stimulate interest in infectious disease control and to encourage upcoming physicians to be interested in infectious disease and also provide scholarship for them to be able to attend conferences abroad. We also aim to establish a centre of excellence for infectious disease in the country which will serve as a referral centre for people with complicated infections,” he said.
In her presentation which dwelt on tropical diseases, such as, Ebola, Zika and Malaria, Professor of Clinical Microbiology and Deputy Vice Chancellor, Development Services, University of Lagos, Prof. Folashade Ogunsola, urged Nigerians to test before treating malaria and to stop attributing every fever to malaria.
“The other name for fever in Nigeria is malaria. But fever is just a symptom of so many diseases. So, once somebody says he feels feverish, they will say he has malaria. And many laboratories in the country don’t know how to diagnose malaria.”
She, therefore, enjoined patients to consult a qualified doctor and go to registered and certified laboratory facilities for proper malaria diagnosis and treatment.
However, Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, called for a change of attitude and commitment in the control of infectious diseases in Nigeria. He added that health workers have a lot to do in controlling these diseases through proper hygiene practices to prevent hospital acquired infections; and by educating their patients on the importance of personal hygiene in disease prevention.
For Dr. Nadine Regis, a Haitian-American Emergency Medicine Physician working in Columbus, Georgia, USA, early and proper diagnosis remains the way forward in combating infectious diseases.