Benue health commissoner calls for calm over disease outbreak

By Brenda Agba

Following the closure of Vaatia College, Makurdi over an unknown disease suspected to be Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) that hit the school affecting some students, Benue people have been told not to panic but remain calm as the Benue State government is taking proactive measures to find lasting solutions to the problem.

Benue State Commissioner for Health and Human Services, Dr Joseph Ngbea, gave this assurance while speaking with newsmen in the ministry’s conference room recently.

The commissioner said about nine students, eight girls and one boy, between the ages of 13 and 16 were affected by the disease.

According to Dr Ngbea, as at the time he led other members of the emergency team of the ministry to the hospitals, three of the affected students were still on admission at the Benue State University Teaching Hospital (BSUTH), Makury with two at Madonna Hospital also in Makurdi, while four were said to have already been discharged.

The commissioner further explained that after an interface with the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of BSUTH together with the Consultant Paediatrician as well as the Madonna medical team managing the students, the initial suspicion of polio based on some of the symptoms which include weakness of the lower limbs with intact sensorium, disturbance gait as well as wobbling movement was ruled out as they did not present other polio symptoms like headache.

Speaking further, Dr  Ngbea explained that, the closure of the school was to enable the ministry carry out thorough investigation to find out all that the disease is about, towards mitigating any further incidents.

Commenting on the multiple disease outbreaks currently being experienced in the state, the commissioner said the Molecular Laboratory which is under construction at Epidemiology Unit will be ready by March, thereby making testing of such outbreaks easier and faster.

In his remarks, the Director of Public Health in the ministry, Dr Terna Kur, said samples have been collected for test with results expected to be out after one month, saying the results will help beef up doctor’s findings concerning the outbreak.

Recall that Vaatia College was first hit by this strange disease in 2017.

Relatedly, the Commissioner for Health and Human Services, Dr Joseph Ngbea, also commended the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, for the release of Emergency Fund to the ministry, adding that the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has assured of releasing their counterpart fund to that effect in no distant time.

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