In a bid to avert incidences of Lassa Fever and other vector-borne diseases in Lagos State, an NGO, Phosguard Fumigant Ltd, in partnership with the state government, has introduced a bounty: “Kill rats, make money.”
Under the project, rodents multiplying ubiquitously across the state are to be exterminated from residential places and markets using hi-tech chemicals and equipment that will make their decomposing bodies non-infectious.
Oluwasegun Benson, the Chief Executive Officer of the company, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Lagos that the bounty would help to de-rat the state.
Vector-borne diseases are infections transmitted by the bite of infected arthropod species, such as rats, mosquitoes, ticks, triatomine bugs, sandflies and blackflies.
The World Health Organisation says vector-borne diseases account for more than 17 per cent of all infectious diseases, causing more than 1 million deaths annually.
“As part of efforts to de-rat the state and prevent epidemic from Lassa Fever and other diseases, a bounty has been placed on rats in the state.
“We will buy off at least 20 rats for a yet-to-be determined amount; in Lagos now it is operation kill rats and make money.
“A rat has 28 days gestation period and in the past years, there has not been any solid structure on ground to curb them from infecting humans with diseases.
“We are already approaching an epidemic level which can lead to a pandemic level with Lassa Fever and we must be proactive and launch a more coordinated approach to control them.
“It is war against rodents and pests in Lagos State,” he said.
According to him, the company is also collaborating with the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) to either incinerate or bury the rats.
“Incineration is no longer in practice because of world climate control, however, we can incinerate one ton of waste at a time or bury.
“We bury with chemicals to ensure that the water from the dead rats does not sip into ground water that people drink.
“Everything is going to be water-tight as we are not just going to kill the rats, we are going to collect them using our trained and well-kitted personnel,” Mr. Benson said.
Describing rats as destructive and hazardous to nature, the company’s CEO added: “We cannot completely eradicate rodents, but we can control it to a minimal and tolerable level.
“Although, the decomposing rats can also be important to the ecosystem but not in urban areas, they are destructive nature.
“Rats had caused fire in offices and homes by eating electricity cables”.
Mr. Benson said the project which would be launched in October would be the first of its kind in the country.
He noted that with the cosmopolitan nature of Lagos, if measures were not put in place to exterminate rats, it might be difficult to control an outbreak of epidemics.
He commended Governor Akinwunmi Ambode for approving the Vector Control Programme which would start with the markets and supporting it with a Toyota Hillux van.
He, however, expressed the hope that in two or three years there would be a massive reduction in the demography of rats in the state.
On employment generation, Mr. Benson said the project had the capacity to create about 200 or 300 jobs, particularly for youths.
NAN reports that the Lagos State Government had in the wake of outbreak of Lassa Fever in the country early in the year, made efforts to curb the spread by killing rats.
More than 130 people were then suspected to have died from the disease, according to statistics from the National Centre for Disease Control.
The Lagos State Government on January 22, confirmed the death of one of the three cases of Lassa Fever.
The Commissioner for Health, Jide Idris, said then that the state had recorded 14 suspected cases of Lassa Fever as at January 21.
The government then started de-rating of the state, an exercise in which its environmental officers killed over 4,400 rats in six of the markets in Lagos metropolis.
The exercise was conducted at Onigongbo, Oshodi, Oke-Odo, Ikotun Idanwo, Ojuwoye and Mile 12 Markets.
The kill rats, make more money in Lagos project, could strengthen the government’s effort to de-rat and save the state of Lassa Fever and other vector-borne diseases.