On Channels Television’s programme, Sunrise, on Saturday, the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris and the Permanent Secretary with the State’s Health Ministry, Dr Olukayode Oguntimehin, explained how the state was able to address the Ebola Virus Disease that has claimed more than 4,500 lives since outbreak began in March.
They said that the fear that Ebola had no cure and that it killed infected persons within 21 days of infection led to the success recorded in tracing all passengers in the airline that brought the Liberian-American man, Patrick Sawyer, the index case, to Nigeria.
Dr Idris said that the airline and the contacts cooperated with the health ministry because of the fear of the spread of the disease if not contained immediately.
On the area of preparedness, there had got the public talking, with many giving thanks to God that the first case of the Ebola disease was in Lagos. They believe that other states are not as prepared as Lagos to handle such circumstance.
Prepared For Emergency
Dr Idris also confirmed these insinuations, saying that the preparedness of the state was a factor that contributed to the containment of the Ebola Virus.
“The management of the Ebola virus in Nigeria has been attributed to a combination of factors.
“A major factor was fear. It was the first time it is happening in an urban setting.
“Most people do not know that a lot of structures were in place to ensure that the disease could be managed. There was a command and control structure and everybody cooperated and things were done as and when necessary.
“We have over the years prepared for emergency. Six months before Ebola came, we have had series of presentations and conferences and one of them was on an epidemic emergency,” he said.
The Commissioner for Health also pointed out that Lagos State had had “a fair share of emergency and it led to establishment of basic structure” needed in the management of such circumstances.
On how the State government was able to manage the contacts, he said: “It took over a period of days to get their contact addresses and every other things from the airline.
“Pressure from different governments on the airline and fear led to the success that was recorded. The airline gave us the list of the EOC centre.
“I am not too sure of any state that has the level of preparedness that the Lagos State has. The personnel that we have is something that other states do not have. But because of this incident, State governments have put up their own emergency management system to tackle issues of this sort”.
Since the outbreak began, most of the dead are health workers, a development that triggered fear in the minds of many health workers.
Dr Oguntimehin, however, pointed out that health health workers were always endangered in most cases of disease spread, explaining that in the case of Ebola, “as much as the personal protective equipment is good, the real problem is when you remove it”.
“Once you get to attend the infected persons you get contaminated and when you want to remove it your hands are contaminated and what you do with your hands later matters.”
He also emphasised that preparation was key to controlling the Ebola Virus.
“All our health workers were taught how to use the items to ensure that they do not get contaminated while attending to the patients or when removing the gears. It is a systematic decontamination while taking off the outfit and it takes about five days to learn how to go in and come out of the isolation centre.
Supportive Treatment For Ebola Patients
They further explained how the patients were managed and treated, saying that the treatment had been supportive treatment based on the symptoms presented by the patients.
Dr Idris said that the age was also a major factor in the recovery of the patients that survived.
“From all the contacts that we had, there were persons that had contact with Ebola patients, who were expected to test positive, but did not test positive.
He recommended that the research process of treating the new cases with the serum from the survived patients that showed positive benefit should be developed.
“We have developed a core group in Lagos State and we want to partner with a group from the US who actually signified interest because of the number of persons that survived here and we are looking at a lot of parameters,” he said, explaining that Ebola survivors had serum that could be used in treating new infections.
“We need to develop the serum to see how it could be used to hinder infection.”
Nigeria has been declared Ebola free by the World health Organization on Monday, but the WHO warned that war had not been won, since they were cases of the virus in other West African countries.
In line with the warning, the Lagos State government officials further stressed the need for state governments to make sure that all structures needed to tackle unforeseen circumstances were in place and the need to share knowledge and experience.