By Chukwuemeka Opara
In an effort to prevent further outbreak of Lassa fever, Ebonyi Government is to begin intensive campaigns against rat consumption in rural areas.
The state Commissioner for Environment, Chief Donatus Njoku, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abakaliki that the government would explore all avenues to dissuade the citizens from consuming rats.
NAN reports that Lassa fever outbreak in the state in January resulted in four deaths and it is believed that inhabitants of the state erroneously believe rats have high nutritional value.
Njoku said: “Rats are the primary vectors of the disease, and we are vigorously carrying out enlightenment through mass media, workshops, seminars and various ministries’ communication channels.
“We will collaborate with traditional rulers and other opinion leaders at the grassroots to educate rural dwellers to shun such a notion and realise that rat is the disease’s primary vector.
“We have also continued to sensitise the populace to urgently report suspected cases to relevant health agencies.
“With the total functionality of the state government-owned South-East Virology Centre, such an occurrence can be expeditiously handled.’’
On sanitation, Njoku said that contrary to insinuations, non-observance of the monthly sanitation in the state did not affect effective sanitation.
“State and Federal Government functions sometimes fall on the last Saturday of the month, and when this occurs, we have to comply.
“The state government has evolved policies which make the populace to clean their environments on daily basis and not wait for designated days,” he said.
Njoku told NAN that the state Ministry of Environment ensured that state government ministries and parastatal-agencies cleaned their environments daily as directed by the governor.
“We assess their performances to ascertain the level of compliance; to show his seriousness toward the directive, the governor visits the ministries for on-the-spot assessments.
“We encourage the people to keep their environments clean to improve their health,” he said. (NAN)