Courage and Duty in Nigeria's Lassa fever outbreak
Despite the risk of infection, Ondo State medical workers are endangering their lives to save people suffering from deadly Lassa fever.
Dr Femi Asunloye, the Senior Registrar at the Federal Medical Centre in Owo, South-West Nigeria, has experienced a lot as the past few weeks have been really tough.
He works extra hours away from his family, working on the emotional and mental strength required to deal with the situation.
Since the beginning of this year, when Lassa fever cases in Ondo increased, the life of Dr Femi as a senior medical worker took a different and challenging turn.
He has witnessed infections and deaths among patients and colleagues caused by the virus. His decision to combat the outbreak and help in saving more lives has enormously grown.
This sacrifice has been extremely useful in many ways. While sharing his experience, the medical worker said, "This Lassa fever outbreak has been overwhelming because it is highly infectious."
He added, "Being in such a dire situation while caring for patients at the isolation centre has been both challenging and a learning experience for me. There have been times when friends and family members have been worried for my safety, especially due to infection among my colleagues. It was frightening at first, but now that fear has subsided."
He added, "Making this type of sacrifice to save the lives of our people from this virus is what we have vowed to do as medical doctors. It is something I am willing to do over again."
Dr Olatiilu Tope, who is another medical worker at the Federal Medical Centre, Owo in the surgical department, after being infected with Lassa fever, is lucky to be still alive.
Dr Tope spent ten days in the isolation ward of the hospital, battling for his life. A month after overcoming the disease, he has come back to the frontlines to help other patients win against the killer virus.
He said, “I was infected with the virus, fell sick, and was admitted to the hospital and treated for ten days. It took me one month before I could return to work. When I went back to help fight the virus, some of my friends thought I was insane. But this is my job. I can't abandon my duty post because of Lassa fever. My colleagues and I have been doing community sensitisation and other programmes to help reduce the rate of infection and fatality.”