The Kaduna State branch of Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has advised both the federal and state governments to focus more of their enlightenment campaign on the Ebola virus disease to the rural communities rather than concentrating on the urban areas.
The association said that this has become imperative because majority of the rural dwellers eat more bush meat than their urban counterparts, and are also not properly enlightened to know the risks associated with the Ebola virus disease.
The Kaduna State NMA Chairman, Dr. Mohammed Ibrahim, gave this advice at a press briefing in Kaduna on Saturday, where he debunked rumours spreading round the state since Thursday that there was an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in the state.
He advised the residents to always confirm any issue relating to the Ebola case from health personnel instead of relying on rumours. He also advised them to adopt measures of protecting themselves from contracting the virus.
Mr Ibrahim reiterated the willingness of his members to attend to any case of Ebola or any other emergency in the state, despite the ongoing strike by medical doctors across the country.
He, however, expressed dissatisfaction with the Federal Government’s insurance cover for health workers who are attending to victims of Ebola virus, as well as the level of preparedness shown so far by both the Federal Government and the 36 state governments.
The Management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), on Friday, announced the indefinite shutdown of its clinic in the Muri Okunola area of Victoria Island, Lagos, following a suspected case of Ebola virus on admission at the clinic.
NNPC shuts down the clinic as it discovered that the patient visited the First Consultant Medical Centre during the period the first Ebola case was reported at that clinic.
The Corporation, in a statement by the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Ohi Alegbe, explained that the pre-emptive step was taken after the case was duly reported to the Federal Ministry of Health as well as officials of the Lagos State Ministry of Health.
“In the meantime, all contacts with this case are being traced and adequate precautionary measures instituted to contain the possible spread of the disease,” the Corporation stated.
The medical team has given assurances that the patient is in stable condition.
Members of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) are continuing the nationwide strike despite repeated appeals from the Federal Government and other concerned Nigerians for them to return to work and help in tackling the outbreak of the Ebola Virus in Lagos State.
The Secretary-General of the Lagos branch of the NMA, Dr Babajide Saheed, said the decision to continue with the strike was unanimous, after an emergency delegates’ meeting which held in Abuja, from Wednesday night through Thursday morning.
The Federal Government and the Lagos State government had called on the striking medical association to resume duties in the wake of the Ebola outbreak in Lagos State, which has claimed two lives.
On Thursday, there were rumours that the association had called off the strike, but Dr Saheed’s statement would lay every such rumour to rest, as the doctors appear determined to continue the strike while the government is making efforts to contain the spread of the virus.
“The government is not being sincere and we decided to continue the strike so that we can resolve the issue once and for all. Everybody at the meeting unanimously supported the continuation of the strike,” he said.
On July 1, the leadership of the association asked all members to down tools, after the Federal Government failed to address their 24-point demand.
The association is, among other things, demanding the stoppage of the appointment of non-doctors as directors and consultants.
They are also demanding the immediate passage of the National Health Bill, appointment of a Surgeon-General of the Federation, the payment of 100,000 Naira hazard allowance for medical doctors and the skipping of level 12 by medical and dental practitioners.
The association had in June addressed a news conference at the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, where it advised the Federal Government to urgently address its demands or be prepared for the indefinite strike with effect from July 1.
President Goodluck Jonathan on Friday declared a national emergency on Ebola, stressing the need for all Nigerians to support the government’s efforts to check the spread of the virus.
In a statement by the spokesman for the President, Ruben Abati, President Jonathan urged medical workers and other health professionals to regard the declaration of the National Emergency as a patriotic call to duty and service.
The Lagos State government has prepared an Isolation ward for patients with symptoms of Ebola Virus Disease, to enable health workers contain the situation and reduce possible spread.
At an inspection visit to the the facility on Friday, the State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola, said that the facility was ready for use, as the state tackles the outbreak of Ebola disease that has claimed two lives.
The Governor told reporters that he was there to see the environment in which the health workers handling the situation were working, the level of preparation and their level of protection.
“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.
Not A Death Sentence
Also with the Governor were, the Commissioners for Health, Dr Jide Idris, Special Duties, Dr Wale Ahmed and Special Adviser on Public Health, Dr Yewande Adeshina.
The Governor, who interacted with some of the health workers met on ground, expressed appreciation for the work they were doing.
He emphasised that the Ebola Virus Disease was devastating, stressing, however, that contracting it is not an automatic death sentence.
“The consequences of death would depend on what is done and what is not done,” he said.
He stressed that there were already reported cases of patients who are recovering in other parts of West Africa and that the issue was about being able to respond to it appropriately and taking precaution.
“We are also taking precaution and that is also why we did not go into where the patients are because there is a very strict protocol for going there, so if you are going there, you must wear a fully protected gown. In the place where we are expanding to ensure that we are able to cope with anything that comes, you would see the shower there; people have to go through a protocol, one way in, one way out. That is why you cannot go into where patients are now unless you are fully protected appropriately and unless you walk through the mandated process for going in and for coming out”.
“Those who are detoxifying and decontaminating they don’t go in. They are waiting outside and those who go in do so under a very rigorous protocol set up with advise from the centre for disease control and then people who are not critically ill and stuffs, where they go and how we are going to be disposing off their refuse and their waste have been worked out. Provisions have already been made there so that we can separate very critically ill people from people who are just showing symptoms but who need to be in isolation,” Governor Fashola said.
Fashola said that provisions had also been made to separate critically ill people from people who are just showing symptoms but who need to be in isolation.
The governor pointed out that the first defence against the virus was to prevent it from spreading; stressing that once that is done, then the health authorities are on the way towards coming out of it.
“From what I hear following a long discussion I heard with the leadership of the Centre for Disease Control in Washington yesterday, I was speaking with them comparing what they were doing with what they expected us to be doing. Their personnel are here for clarity working and helping in training people,” the Governor explained.
He urged persons who feel they had had contact with an Ebola victim to ensure they do not make further contact with any member of their family.
The government is making all efforts to ensure that the spread of the virus is contained and the facility is one of the strategies aimed at reducing contact with persons with the virus.
Two new case was reported on Friday morning, increasing fears that the virus was spreading in one of Nigeria’s most populous cities, Lagos with over 20 million people.
The Minister of Health, Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu, has called for collaboration across board to combat the challenges posed by the Ebola virus.
Prof Chukwu, who was speaking during the launch of the Defence Identification Centre, urged the military to use it’s expertise in high tech medicine to help other health centres in finding a cure to the deadly Ebola disease.
Beyond aiding the military in it’s operations, Prof Chukwu believes the centre provides an opportunity to help the government combat some health challenges confronting the nation. He urged the military to ensure the centre is maintained to add value to the nation’s economy.
Prof Chukwu added that “now that the armed forces is going into high technological molecular diagnosis, it will be important, even in the context of the recent challenges of Ebola outbreak, to extend this facility to other diagnostic facilities; key ones, particularly areas you think members of the armed forces could be exposed to in modern warfare.
“It will be necessary that as an adjunct, since you are already moving into molecular medicine; high tech medicine, that you also begin to think of how to make proper diagnosis in each of these centres that are linked to this major Defence Identification Centre,” he said.
The Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, while responding to the call, noted that the hazards of counter terrorism has made it imperative for the Nigerian military to continue to make technological advancements, including the DNA Centre, designed for the identification of the casualties of war and terrorism.
Air Chief Marshal Badeh also noted that “on a few occasions were multiple fatalities were recorded and corpses could not be identified, mass burials were resorted to” adding that such burials deny the heroes the privilege of being buried properly, while robbing the bereaved families the honour and satisfaction of their loved ones given befitting burials.
Ebola hemorrhagic fever (Ebola HF) is one of numerous Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers. It is a severe, often fatal disease in human beings.
Nigeria has announced plans to begin screening of outbound passengers at its borders, as a way of curbing the spread of the Ebola Virus disease which has taken hundreds of lives in West Africa.
The Health Minister, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, announced the plans to diplomats at a meeting in Abuja on Thursday.
The Minister told the gathering that the government had not taken a decision to close its borders as a result of the outbreak of the disease.
“The government has intensified screening of inbound passengers on land, sea and airports,” Professor Chukwu said.
The fear of the Ebola Virus and the high mortality rate associated with it has created widespread panic locally and internationally, prompting the interactive meeting by the Nigerian government with diplomats on measures taken to contain the disease.
Intense training and public awareness on the virus is under-way, according to the Minister of Health.
At present, 70 primary contacts with Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian that died on July 25 after he was diagnosed of the Virus, are under surveillance.
A nurse that was among medical officials that treated the Liberian died on Wednesday of the Ebola Virus while five other persons have tested positive to the Virus.
Despite the panic, the Health Minister says the country would not close its borders in order to speedily identify victims of the virus.
A governor of the opposition All Progressives Congress and the Governor of Lagos State, where the Ebola cases have been reported, Mr Babatunde Fashola, had earlier asked the government to close the country’s borders as a way of checking the spread of the disease.
Meanwhile, the Economic Community of West African States’ secretariat has announced a temporary shut down of its Lagos office where some of its personnel who had contact with the late Patrick Sawyerr work.
The Federal Government says it has reached out to the United States Centre for Disease Control to request for the unapproved drug ZMAPP, for the treatment of Ebola victims in Nigeria as the country continues its search for Ebola cure.
The Minister of Information, Mr Labaran Maku and the Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, told reporters after the Federal Executive Council meeting held in Abuja on Wednesday that the government was awaiting the response of the request it made last night to the centre in the US.
Professor Chukwu said that the council meeting presided over by the Vice President, Namadi Sambo, focused mainly on the measures being taken to contain the spread of the Ebola Virus in Lagos.
He said that the persons who had primary contact with the index Ebola victim have been traced and isolated.
According to the World Health Organization, the Ebola cure has not been found and the virus has claimed about 900 people in West Africa representing 60% of deaths caused by the virus in the world.
The disease, which has started spreading in Lagos State, was a major talking point at the FEC meeting,
The Minister stressed that the Ebola Virus was a national emergency, with everyone in the world at risk.
He confirmed that Nigeria had recorded it’s first indigenous case with the death of a nurse who was infected with the Ebola Virus while attending to the Liberian, Patrick Sawyer, who died on July 25.
“The Federal Government has reached out to the United States Centre for Disease Control, to request for the unapproved Ebola drug, ZMAPP, for the treatment of affected persons in Nigeria,” he said.
The Health Minister further said that the government had set up a special team for counselling and psychosocial support to patients, identified contacts and their families.
Mr Maku also advised Nigerians to be weary of quacks who would want to take advantage of the hapless victims.
The Minister of Information said the Federal Government was also set to recruit and deploy health personnel with attractive remuneration to Lagos to assist in the fight against the deadly virus.
A Public Health Specialist, Simbo Davidson, says that Nigeria cannot yet categorically say that it has no cases of the Ebola virus disease in Nigeria.
Speaking on the Friday edition of Channels Television’s Sunrsie Daily, she said that the declaration of the health authorities that there had been no cases yet was as it concerned transmission via the entry, treatment and the death of a Liberian Ebola victim in Lagos for which several people had been screened for possible contact.
Therefore, there were still possibilities that other carriers of the virus might have entered the country through other means asides the airports which the authorities were focusing on, particularly through the country’s land borders that experience a lot of human traffic between the West African countries.
She highlighted the need to focus on providing screening facilities at Nigeria’s land borders, as it remained one of the most likely channels through which the virus could spread. She gave a reminder that body fluids like sweat could transmit the virus and this was highly possible through contacts as simple as sitting together in a bus.
On the view in some quarters that there had been too much panic as the outbreak might have been exaggerated, she disagreed, saying rather that Nigeria was actually underrating the virus, an act which she said was very dangerous.
Highlighting the possibility of under-reporting of the disease, she noted that the number of casualties represented that of reported cases only and this meant the situation could be worse as many victims do not get to the hospital before they die.
She cited the example of South-Africa and the outbreak of a similar disease in 2008. She recalled that the country did not wait to verify its discovery of a scientifically proven cure for the virus but went ahead to use it in order to save its citizens and the proactive decision turned out to be the solution.
She said that there was need for Nigeria to engage in better planning to control the spread of the disease, as there was need to have more screening and isolation centres in every Local Government Area.
There had been reports that the Ebola virus can be cured by the consumption of Kolanut, but Dr. Davidson dismissed the claims as she explained that there was no scientific evidence for the claim. She, however, noted that there had been advanced research into a possible anti-viral cure in a Helsinki University and she expected African countries to be more proactive to explore such opportunities as South Africa did.
She maintained that the strategies taken by many of the countries was not effective, explaining that the fact that it had started crossing borders showed a failure of their approach.
The actual origin of the Ebola virus also came to the fore and Dr. Davidson said that the actual source of the virus cannot be verified yet as many animals have been mentioned including monkeys and some rodents.
She also explained that trying to clear out the animals would be a wrong strategy to engage in controlling the disease, as there was no actual population of animals that can be gathered together and killed.
She noted that the Ebola virus cannot be likened to the Avian Flu that is transmitted by poultry animals which are usually together in a farm.
Dr. Davidson recommended improved hygiene and early testing for every symptom as one of the best ways to control the disease from spreading in Nigeria.
For the countries with already pronounced outbreaks, she provided a number of recommendations including a ban on parties, social gatherings or other situations that would gather several people together.
She also warned against unnecessary visits to the homes of people who had fallen sick as one might not know the actual nature of the illness. She added, “Let’s stop shaking hands if possible.”