The Federal Government on Wednesday said it might stop medical doctors in public sector from engaging in private practice. It also said 33 suspected cases of monkeypox had so far been recorded in seven states across the country.
The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, who disclosed this to State House correspondents at the end of the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, also announced the outbreak of yellow fever in five states.
The yellow fever outbreak, the minister said, started in Kwara State.
Adewole said so far, 10 cases had been recorded in the country – four in Kwara; two in Kogi; two in Plateau; one in Abia; and one in Edo.
He said the government had therefore decided to start its reactive campaign in Kwara and Kogi states from Friday (tomorrow).
The minister said government had also decided to start a nationwide vaccination against yellow fever, which would be brought forward to December.
Adewole added that no new confirmed case of Lassa fever had been reported in the country, while he also reported the declining case of cholera in Borno State with no death recorded so far.
The minister said the council had also decided to look into the issue of private practice by medical doctors in the public sector and had set up a committee on the matter.
“A committee has been set up to look extensively into that issue because we want to resolve the issue of what does the law of the land states and what the rule of professional ethics says.
“The law of the land does not allow any public officer to do anything other than farming.
“So, that committee would make appropriate recommendation to government on this important issue which is of considerable interest to quite a number of Nigerians.
“In addition to that, we will also look at the Yayale Ahmed Report which tried to look into the relationship between professional groups in the health sector and the office of the SGF has been mandated to forward a White Paper on the report to the FEC so that, once and for all, government can restore harmony to the health sector,” the minister said.
Adewole added that the council resolved to set up a committee on the works being done in the health sector.
“Council also looked at the issue of residency training programme and decided that the training should last for a fixed time of seven years.
“After training for seven years, individuals should exit from the programme so that other people can come in,” he said.
Adewole, however, said many of the 33 monkeypox cases reported did not fit into the classic prototype of the disease, hence the decision of the Federal Government to take some samples to the laboratory for confirmation.
He urged Nigerians not to panic but endeavour to report all suspected cases of monkeypox to medical practitioners and continue to maintain high level of hygiene.
The minister said, “This actually started in Bayelsa State and we have recorded 33 suspected cases in all from seven states: Bayelsa, Rivers, Ekiti, Akwa Ibom, Lagos, Ogun and Cross River.
“What is particularly significant is that many of the cases so reported do not fit into the classic prototype of monkeypox but we are trying to confirm.
“Before the end of today (Wednesday) or early tomorrow (Thursday), we should be able to confirm exactly what we are dealing with whether it is truly monkeypox or not. But what is obvious is that we have a disease that is close to the pox family.
“One of our scientists, Prof. Christian Appeh, is looking into it in the laboratory to confirm if it is truly monkeypox. We are also doing a double confirmation in Senegal because Senegal also have a public health laboratory that could make diagnosis.
“We are looking at the two and hopefully, in the next 24 or 48 hours, we should be able to make a diagnosis as to what we have.
“Our advice to Nigerians will be not to panic, report all suspected cases to health facilities and to continue to maintain a high level of hygiene. Let us wash our hands; let us avoid contact with dead animals, clean our surroundings and as much as possible for health workers to maintain barrier nursing while managing people with suspected cases of monkeypox.