When the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, referred to the response of the Governor of Zamfara State over the outbreak of cerebrospinal meningitis, it was clear he was stirring up a new debate on the matter.
Governor Abdulaziz Yari has responded to the comments made by the Emir, insisting that the comments were half-truth.
He also maintained that the outbreak of the disease indeed has a spiritual undertone.
“I stand by my words that if people do not change, God will not change for them. Therefore, I will answer the Emir perfectly and give him the Quran content of the Hadith where I belong to and where I have my fact.
“For instance, I made mention that in the past we have Type A, which vaccines have been brought and they have vaccinated over four million doses in 2011.
“We are now having Type B and Type C which they don’t even know. At the Centre for Disease Control in Chicago where we get our vaccines from, they only have five million,” he said.
The Nigerian government has launched a national guideline for the treatment, prevention and care for people living with HIV/Aids in Nigeria as part of the activities to mark the 2016 World Aids Day.
The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole at a conference in Abuja, stated that the new guideline will provide the needed guide for government and development partners towards eliminating new infections.
For four days, representatives of the federal government, development partners in the health sector and networks of people living with HIV and Aids converged to celebrate the 2016 World Aids Day in the FCT.
The Minister of Health who represented President Muhammadu Buhari, gave the assurance that government would give more commitment to funding HIV prevention efforts while appealing for prudent use of resources.
“I am aware of the challenges that have risen in the last few years with regards to the delivery of HIV services in the country. I hereby reaffirm our commitment and ensure accountability and transparency in the HIV sector,” he stated.
He, however, advised that funds earmarked for the control and treatment of the virus must be used judiciously.
The Minister then proceeded to launch the national guideline for the treatment and control of HIV and Aids in Nigeria
Prior to this, the Country Director for the United States Centre for Disease Control, Hank Tomilinson, explained how much the American government has invested in treatment and care for HIV in Nigeria with the belief that more could be achieved.
“Nigeria has since 2003 received almost four billion US dollars to address HIV prevention in Nigeria. So far the results are encouraging but we are not satisfied,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Secretary of the Network of People Living With Aids in Nigeria (NEPWA), Abdulkadri Ibrahim, decried the lack of access to medications by his members
“We have less than one million that are having ARV treatment. We have a long way to go. Nigeria accounts for 3.5 million people living with HIV/Aids in this country. We have to fast-track anti-retroviral therapy,” he urged.
The Director General of the National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA), Sani Aliyu, described the current status of the virus and the challenges he faces trying to control its spread.
“Almost one in ten people living with HIV globally are in Nigeria. About 600 people acquire the infection every day in our country.
“Now is the time to tackle the challenge of inadequate domestic funding, shrinking donor support, a weak health care support system and a poorly coordinated national response,” he said.
Nigeria recorded 250,000 new infections in 2015, raising the profile of the virus in Nigeria to 3.5 million people.
Only an estimated 800,000 of this population have access to medications.
Some Nigerian volunteer health workers sent to Sierra Leone and Liberia to help curb the spread of Ebola have returned with complaints about poor welfare, neglect by the Federal Government and lack of quarantine before mixing with the public.
According to the volunteers, they were neither isolated from the public for 21 days as recommended by the W.H.O, nor were they paid their full allowances by the Nigerian Government and the African Union, the two principal bodies responsible for the exercise.
Beside these complaints against the government, the Centre for Disease Control is also accused of embezzling over 28 million naira during the fight against Ebola in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, officials of the centre have rejected the claims of financial misappropriation and poor welfare for volunteers.
According to its Director-General, Professor Abdulsalami Nasidi , the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control followed due process in handling the cases of the returnees.
The African Union appealed to Nigeria to send volunteers to help curb the spread of Ebola in the two countries who were still struggling with the spread of the disease after Nigeria was declared Ebola free by the World Health Organization in October 2014.
The 185 volunteers spent six months on the assignment.
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Sunday assured Lagos state residents of the resolve of his administration to contain the spread and overcome the deadly Ebola Virus which was imported into the State early this month by late Patrick Sawyer.
In a Statewide broadcast, Governor Fashola said the resolve was based on the courage so far shown by the first set of health workers at the State and Federal levels as well as the leadership of the State and Federal Ministries of Health with the support of the Government’s international partners.
He said the resolve is also reinforced by the encouraging reports that emanate daily from the isolation wards about those who are receiving treatment and those under surveillance pointing out that while 61 persons, who have been under observation in the last 21 days have been discharged, there is a report that a confirmed victim of the disease has fully recovered.
Fashola told Lagos residents that contrary to the rumour that it lacks the resources to tackle the challenge posed by the virus, the State has enough resources to fund everything that is needed adding that the House of Assembly has also approved a request for any needed help.
The Governor noted that the recovery of a victim has reinforcement the advice from experts that the Ebola virus infection is not an automatic death sentence, “this is encouraging news from which our containment strategy can profit greatly”, he said, adding that the State has no case of unknown origin which could raise the risk of an epidemic.
He applauded the first set of health workers at the State and Federal levels who, according to him, “stood up to be counted” as well as the leadership demonstrated by the State and Federal Ministries of Health with the support of international partners.
“In spite of fear, they stood up to be counted at a time of grave danger. We salute their courage, professionalism, patriotism and humanitarian disposition. They are the heroes and heroines that we have looked for for a long time. I cannot thank them enough”, the Governor said, adding that what they need now is encouragement and support to gain even stronger control of the situation.
Fashola expressed joy that in the last one week, the response of the State to the sudden challenge has become a lot better than when the news first broke while the capacity to cope with it is increasing daily, adding that although some lives have unfortunately been lost, the State is not yet at an epidemic stage of the disease and Government is determined to do everything not to get to that stage.
According to the Governor, this has been made possible with the advice of the technical partners such as the World Health Organization, the Centre for Disease Control and the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) who, according to him, “have tracked the Ebola virus and studied it for decades”.
While assuring that Government is doing everything to ensure the safety of the workers and give them confidence to continue their work, Fashola appealed to Lagos residents not to do anything to distract them or de-motivate the workers, adding that what the workers do not need are rumours and the distractions that such rumours can bring with them”.
The Governor, who acknowledged the concerns and anxiety of friends and relatives of sick victims, assured them of the concerted efforts of Government and added that that the fact that they expect special care for their loved ones is both understandable and expected of them as friends and relatives.
“I assure you that they are receiving the best care that the experts have recommended to us, given the circumstances; because they say that this is the best way to proceed especially because experienced personnel in Ebola containment and management have always been a challenge”, the Governor said.
He called for additional medical personnel “who are willing to volunteer to join hands with those on the frontline”, adding, however, that the experts have cautioned that those who signed up cannot immediately start to participate in the isolation ward where sick people are being treated no matter how qualified and experienced they are.
“They must undergo a few days of training by our international body of advisers and understand the protocol for operation in the isolation ward for their own safety and sustenance of the containment plan to stop the virus from spreading”, he said.