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Published On: Wed, Oct 1st, 2014

Combating the Ebola scourge

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Ebola FG, LagosA cross section of Nigerians who had entertained the fear that the recent break out of the deadly Ebola virus in the country would not be given the adequate needed attention by the government were no doubt surprised at the speed with which the authority swung into action to prevent further spread of the highly contagious disease. ADESOJI OYINLOLA, in Lagos catalogue the efforts of stakeholders in combating the highly dreaded disease brought to Nigeria by a Liberian, Patrick Sawyer, who escaped quarantine in his country, where he was put under observation.

bola, the highly dreaded terminal disease that has been ravaging people in some of the neighbouring West Africa countries was totally alien to Nigeria until one certain Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian, who escaped quarantine in his country awake the consciousness of Nigerians to the disease after he infected some people he came into contact with.

According to experts, EVD in its early stage, would manifest like malaria and probably would be treated as such until the full-blown identifiable symptoms begin to present themselves, at which stage most of the victim’s care-givers may have been endangered. Considering that the disease is contagious and it can be contracted through body secretions like sweat, saliva, urine, blood, among others, it is indeed a stealth enemy which can easily creep into a family or any close-knit group of people and devastate it before they know what has come upon them.

Immediately after Sawyer’s death, two Nigerian nurses that came into contact with him also died of the same ailment.

Going by the its description and the attendant incident of the two death recorded immediately after Sawyer’s death, it therefore became extremely necessary that the disease should be curtailed so to prevent further spread.

Immediately the discovery was made, Lagos State and the Federal Government in commendable efforts rolled out plans to treat those that were affected and put those suspected to have contact with the victims under medical observations.

The first proactive measure by Lagos State government to curb the spread of the deadly disease came through an alert by the Commissioner for health, Dr. Jide Idris advising people to observe high hygienic standard including washing of hand and thoroughly washing and cooking their meat before eating.

Also, in apparent move to curtail spread of the disease, Lagos State government set up an isolation centre at Lagos Mainland hospital to handle Ebola related cases.

Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola who led other government officials to the newly built isolation ward for Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), situated at Lagos Mainland Hospital, Yaba area of Lagos, assured that the facility was ready for use, as the state tackles the outbreak of Ebola disease that has claimed two lives.

“The State has a health challenge on her hands and the administration is concerned about the people in terms of their well-being and for the people who have taken leadership to help in containing it, he stated.

Following the death of some infected health workers in Lagos, other states in the federation have adopted measures to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus to their regions.

Following in the footsteps of Lagos State, Ogun State government through its commissioner for health, Dr. Olaokun Soyinka, disclosed that the state had started training health officials in some local government areas of the state.

Soyinka who further noted that the state was already collaborating with the federal government agencies in the border areas to prevent carriers of the virus from entering the state, however, denied that, the state had recorded Ebola case.

On its part, Delta State government has set up a committee on Inter-Ministerial Ebola Virus Outbreak Preparedness and Response, The committee Chairman, Dr. Joseph Otumara named the hospitals to include; Warri Central Hospitals, Ughelli Central Hospital, Sapele Central Hospital and Agbor Central Hospital. Others are Oleh Central Hospital, Eku Baptist Government Hospital and Delta State University Teaching Hospital Oghara.

The Containment Centres in Niger state are to be established in each of the three Senatorial Districts of the state while the Quarantine Centre is to be established in Minna, the state capital.

The state Commissioner of Information, Alhaji Danladi Ndayebo who told Journalists during a Press Conference in Minna said the Centres will be properly equipped and stocked with drugs for supportive care in case of eventual Breakout of the disease in the state.

He however made it clear that for now, no case of the Virus has been reported in any part of the state.

The Commissioner for Information, Kayode Akinmade, told reporters that equipment and other protective medical facilities had been procured for use by health workers who have been posted to strategic areas.

He said, “We have placed our health workers at our border towns with states like Osun, Ekiti, and Ogun so that those coming from Lagos where the Ebola virus has been fully identified can be screened.

“We have also provided our health workers with protective equipment so that they can adequately handle the issues. Because there is no cure yet for the disease, we are also enlightening the people on ways they can protect themselves.”

Similarly, the Bayelsa State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Markson Fefegha, said the state government would “monitor people coming from other states to ascertain if they had the Ebola virus.”

Fefegha also said the state would not receive corpses into the state from any other state, particularly, Lagos.

“We have 103 Ebola surveillance centres across the local governments in the state. The two major centres are the Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa and the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital in Okolobiri as well as small units in other parts of the state,” he said.

Also in Kwara, the state Chairman of Ebola Viral Disease Control Committee, Prof. Sunday Opabola, told our correspondent that government and residents “are wary of visitors from Lagos.”

According to him, the seven-month baby who is suspected to have the virus was brought into the state by his parents from Ibadan.

Opabola said one of the people that was taking care of the baby had come from Lagos to Ibadan and later left for Lagos before the parents and the baby visited Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.

He stated that the state government had earmarked the Sobi Specialist Hospital and two other hospitals in the state for possible Ebola patients while dedicating an ambulance to convey Ebola patients.

In Edo State, the Information and Orientation Commissioner, Louis Odion, said following the spread of the virus, the state government was set to hold a meeting that would deliberate on how to keep the virus from the state.

A source in the ministry of health, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told our correspondent that the state government was set to inaugurate a committee which would consider several measures to curtail the spread of the virus.

In an anticipation of an outbreak of the dreaded disease, the Plateau State Government has set up a quarantine site.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Elias Pede, told our correspondent in an interview that the site was set up at the old site of the Jos University Teaching Hospital, JUTH.

Akwa Ibom State Government has also set up a rapid response team to coordinate response in the event of Ebola outbreak in the state.

The state Commissioner for Health, Dr. EmemAbasi Bassey, said the health personnel had been advised to use gloves and masks when attending to sick patients.

Ironically, in Enugu State, which has recorded a possible Ebola outbreak, an official of the state government, who did not wish to be named, noted there was no diagnostic laboratory to test suspected cases of Ebola disease.

The Federal Government in apparent move to prevent the disease from spreading among student ordered the postponement of resumption date for both secondary and secondary schools.

Due to the current Ebola outbreak in the country, the Federal Government has ordered that all primary and secondary schools in the country should resume in October, instead of the usual September resumption.

The directive applies to both private and public institutions. The schools’ resumption date was postponed to enable school officials undergo a two-week mandatory training conducted by health officials, on how to handle Ebola.

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