Nigeria should not be complacent with its Ebola free status. This is the consensus coming out of the first day of a 3-day meeting of a group of Nigerian doctors in the Americas.
Participants which include former Nigerian Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, Commissioners of Health and medical officials from the First Consultant Hospital, Lagos Island, outlined strategies that can prepare the country for future epidemics.
The current state of the Ebola outbreak in a few West African countries and lessons learnt from the importation of the disease into Nigeria shaped the opening conversations of the 3-day conference which has other physicians from Nigeria in attendance.
Nigeria, sadly with casualties but thankfully also survivors, contained the 2014 Ebola infection to earn her current W.H.O Ebola free status.
The experts have, however, warned that a reappearance of the disease in Liberia, which was equally certified free of the virus, should send a strong signal of a possible re-importation.
The Association of Nigerian Physicians in the Americas (ANPA) has been doing this for 21 years, bringing onto the discussion table, burning issues in Africa and particularly in the Nigerian health sector.
Discussions on healthcare delivery during conflicts, disasters and epidemics continue on Friday with a focus on managing victims of terrorist attacks.
The 2015 Conference of the Association of Nigerian Physicians in the Americas is being held in Orlando, Florida in the United States.
The Ebonyi State Governor, Mr Martin Elechi’s camp is alleging victimization as the gloom is closing in on the incumbent who is under threat of loosing his job.
A motion to notify him of an impeachment sailed through the State House of Assembly, paving way for the beginning of a journey that may see the Governor removed.
Speaking on Sunrise Daily on Channels Television, the Chief Press Secretary to the Ebonyi Governor, Onyekachi Eni, however, noted that the Governor had not been served an impeachment notice by the House.
He said that all he had was information from the news media “that 15 members out of 24 members of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly, passed a resolution seeking to impeach the Governor”.
According to Eni, allegations levelled against the Governor included “not consulting them during the appointment of the Development Centre Coordinators, the appointment of Caretaker Committee Chairmen of Local Government Areas in Ebonyi State and some other matters which they said had to do with obtaining development loans from the banks without seeking their inputs.”
He said that the Governor’s team hoped that the information was untrue because the said number of lawmakers did not meet the required number to initiate such a process.
“The whole thing is a cocktail of politically motivated victimization against the Governor of Ebonyi State and the people of Ebonyi State,” he said, adding that this was a culmination of the crisis which had been brewing since the last quarter of 2014 following the PDP primaries in the state.
He said that the Governor, in liaison with major stakeholders, made preference from two senatorial zones in the state – Ebonyi Central Senatorial Zone and Ebonyi North Senatorial Zone – leading to the endorsement of former Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu, to succeed the Governor.
Eni explained that this decision was challenged by the Deputy Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, “in concert with the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim” and a number of Abuja based politicians.
“Indeed, it is the playing out of a masquerade in which the Deputy Governor, His Excellency, Engr. Dave Umahi, is the mask and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, is the masquerade, in an effort that is made to get Governor Elechi out of office at all cost,” Eni said.
Nine of the lawmakers have, however, vowed to defend the Governor, claiming that the allegations against him were unsubstantiated.
It was reported that 15 lawmakers have fled the state for fear of being eliminated.
A section of Nigerians have disagreed with the September 22 resumption date set by the Federal Government for public and private schools.
A health professional, member of a civil society group and a concerned parent who were guests on Channels Television’s Saturday breakfast programme, Sunrise, all shared different views with the decision taken by the federal government.
A parent, Pastor Sola Makinde, who said he is not willing to let his “three lovely children” go to school because “measures have not been put in place to ensure that children at that age may have the immunity to withstand some of these things.
The Rev, to buttress his argument that measures have not been put in place, wondered why “the federal government worked in line with the thinking of private school owners; were they induced to come to that decision or are there other secondary reasons that led us to saying September 22 will not be changed”, he said.
He also expressed disappointment over comments credited to the Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu,that the September 22 date will stand, urging that Nigerians to “give in to reason, sense of patriotism, sense of caring for others and sense of seeing that our children are our future and we don’t need to lose them”.
A member, Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria, Dr Adedoyin Ogunyemi, on her part believes it is important to balance the technical and psychological aspects of the disease in relation to the September 22 date.
She noted that recorded cases peaked at a point and later reduced because “it came from one source and it was the relationship with that source that led to the epidemic. So from the epidemiological point of view, you can say that there is some form of containment of this epidemic” adding that “it is being curtailed”.
She however warned that we are not out of the problem “if we still have neighbouring countries with cases of the Ebola Virus Disease”.
Dr Ogunyemi explained further that psychologically, parents and teachers must be in the position where they know what to do at any given time children show symptoms of fever, malaria or any kind of infection.
She said even “when we don’t know what it is, we (should) know what to do, so that people are not left helpless when they encounter an attack”, citing how an individual was left to himself when he slumped at the airport.
She warned that “if there is panic and fear on the part of those to take care of the children, then we have another problem to deal with”, adding that “if we dont get everybody to the point of I know what to do if I suspect a case, then we have not dealt with the issue enough to be able to say, we are ready”. She also noted that it is common for children to develop a fever, malaria, vomiting and diarrhea and “we dont want a case where a child is left alone because everybody is scared that it could be Ebola” insisting that “that is the balance I am talking about and we must achieve that balance”.
The Head of Campaign and Programmes, Civil Liberties Organisation, Onyeka Chris, argued that “resuming on September 22 is akin to sending our children to a place like Chibok or to Borno State; a war front.
“We know that soldiers are there, like they are telling us our schools are prepared to receive our children. But I know that if I visit some federal schools that have boarding facilities, where some of my children attend, I will not be comfortable.
“I know that without the Ebola outbreak that when you visit those schools and you go to their toilets, you will want to throw up” noting that “with Ebola virus, you think that I will be stupid to send my children back to school,
“Sending them back to school will make me an irresponsible parent”, he insisted.
Mr Chris also agreed with Pastor Makinde that owners of private schools are responsible for the September 22 resumption date, alleging that “most of these politicians and those in leadership positions are the owners of these schools”.
He maintained that “they are playing with the lives of Nigerians”, insisting that “none of them have their children in those schools; they dont just have their children in private schools but some of them are abroad” adding that “they are not going to be affected”.
The Ebola Virus Outbreak is a major concern for every Nigerian, and the federal government is putting all necessary measures in place to manage the spread and has announced that there is no active case in the country.
However, the school resumption date announced by the federal government for September the 22nd has raised a lot of concern for parents, teachers and doctors.
The initial announcement by the Minister of Education, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, that all schools nationwide should resume on October 13th 2014 over the Ebola Viral Disease outbreak had sparked off a wave of reactions, with stakeholders in the private schools sector allegedly coming out heavily against it.
United States’ Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, has appealed to the Nigerian Government to assist other West African countries grappling with the containment of the dreaded Ebola Virus Disease in their country.
According to her, the Nigerian Government has better effective strategies for the containment and management of the virus than other West African countries like Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
She made her plea after meeting with Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, in Abuja on Thursday.
Thomas-Greenfield was on an official visit to Nigeria to attend a security meeting, as well as discuss issues on health and the 2015 general elections in Nigeria.
The Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, on Wednesday confirmed the release of the 8th Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) survivor in Nigeria, adding that 18 cases have been recorded so far.
The Minister, briefing journalists after the Federal Executive Council meeting, said, “The total number of confirmed cases of Ebola Virus Disease in Nigeria is now 18.
“The 18th confirmed case is the sister of the late Port Harcourt doctor,” he said, adding that “the total number of cases successfully managed and discharged is now eight.”
Prof Chukwu also stated that the last case to be discharged, the first secondary contact to be diagnosed and a spouse of a primary contact of the index case, went home from the isolation ward in Lagos on Tuesday, confirming the 9th survivor as “the ECOWAS Commission official who jumped surveillance in Lagos and travelled to Port Harcourt”.
The Minister also confirmed that the total number of deaths from Ebola Virus Disease in Nigeria was seven.
“One, the index case, occurred in a private hospital in Lagos, four in the Lagos isolation ward, one in the Port Harcourt isolation ward (the female patient who was on admission in the same hospital where the late Port Harcourt doctor was also admitted), while another one (1) was the doctor who was infected by the ECOWAS Commission official in Port Harcourt and who did not come under the care and management of the Incident Management Committee”, he said.
He added that two EVD patients were currently under treatment in the Lagos and Port Harcourt isolation wards.
“Total number of contacts currently under surveillance in Lagos is 41, while Port Harcourt has 255.
“Total number of contacts discharged in Lagos after they were observed for 21 days is 320”, he said.
The Minister also debunked rumours of EVD cases outside Lagos and Port Harcourt and debunked rumours that the body of the late Port Harcourt doctor was transported to Edo or Delta State, insisting that the body has been decontaminated and would be interred in Port Harcourt.
In a briefing with journalists at the Rivers State Ministry of Health in Port Harcourt, the WHO Country Representative, Mr Rui Vaz, said that WHO was bringing to bear in the fight against the disease, the expert training, assistance and logistical support to achieve containment and to ensure control in the Port Harcourt entry into the state.
The Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, on Thursday said the N200 million donated to Lagos State by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) will not be withdrawn from the N1.9 billion Ebola Intervention Fund.
The Minister, in a statement signed by his Special Assistant on Media and Communication, Dan Nwomeh, said the “ The N200 million is a distinct and direct Federal Government support to Lagos State and does not preclude other assistance that may be rendered to the State through the Federal Ministry of Health”.
The Minister also listed corporate organizations that have made contributions to the Federal Government’s control measures against Ebola Virus Disease in Nigeria
These are: *Aliko Dangote Foundation donated N152 million to sponsor the Ebola Emergency Operation Centre in Lagos.
*The ANAP Foundation founded by Mr. Atedo Peterside informed the Minister of Health that the foundation would be supporting affected private hospitals to the tune of N100,000 (one hundred thousand naira) per bed space. He also disclosed to the Minister that the First Consultant Hospital in Lagos where the index case was managed would be the first beneficiary and that the hospital would receive N4 million since its bed capacity is forty.
*The Tony Elumelu Foundation has pledged a donation of N50 million to support the Federal Government’s containment efforts.
*Shell Petroleum Limited donated an ambulance to the Ebola Emergency Operation Centre in Lagos.
The most senior doctor, a female consultant physician, who participated in the management of the first Ebola patient in Nigeria, Dr. Ameyo Adadevoh, has died.
Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, announced the death on Tuesday evening.
Dr. Stella Ameyo Adadevoh, 58, a Senior Consultant and Endocrinologist, had unknowingly contracted the disease in the process of treating the Liberian-American, Patrick Sawyer, who was the index patient of Ebola in Nigeria. Sawyer died in late July.
With the unfortunate development, the total number of Ebola Virus related deaths in Nigeria now stands at five.
A total of five infected persons have been discharged after they tested negative to the virus after treatment.
According to the Minister, the other two patients currently under treatment in the isolation wards are stable and are being taken care of.
Since the outbreak of the disease early this year, at least 1,000 deaths have been recorded, most of which occurred in West Africa.
Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) gave approval for the use of untested drugs in the treatment of Ebola patients, in an attempt to contain the disease it said was vastly underestimated. It said: “It is a public health emergency of international concern”.
WHO also stressed that extraordinary measures were needed to contain the disease.
The Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, declared the outbreak of the disease a National Emergency and had approved an intervention fund of 1.9 billion Naira to contain the spread.
One of the nurses that attended to the Liberian-American Ebola victim, Patrick Sawyer in Lagos is dead.
The nurse, whose name is withheld by the Health Ministry, is the first Nigerian to be killed by the virus.
A statement by the Minister of Health , Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu said Nigeria has now recorded seven confirmed cases of Ebola, including that of the Liberian-American who died in Lagos.
“The first one, of cause was the Liberian man that died last week. While the nurse that treated him, who died on Wednesday, was the second case. The other five cases are currently under treatment at the isolation ward in Lagos.
“It is important to note that all the Nigerians thus far diagnosed of the Ebola Virus disease were primary contact of the index case,” he said
The Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, has reiterated the government’s determination to put an end to the spread of Ebola virus in Nigeria and protect all its citizens from contracting the disease.
While speaking on the Tuesday edition of Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, he noted that it would be wrong to speculate if there had been more cases of the virus but maintained that some health workers who attended to the late Patrick Sawyer had shown fever symptom but the tests on them turned out negative with the exception of the female doctor who had been confirmed to have contracted the Ebola virus.
On the general situation of things in the country, he said that 70 people, who had primary contacts with the Liberian, were currently under active surveillance, and having shown suggestive symptoms, about 8 people have been quarantined.
He added that the family of the female doctor has also been kept under watch and surveillance, they have been tested and none of them had tested positive yet.
Questions were raised about Nigeria’s involvement in the conference of African Health Ministers held in Accra, Ghana and how it has allegedly failed to address the issue of Ebola spread across the continent and into Nigeria, and Prof. Chukwu explained that indeed the conference addressed the issues of Ebola spread.
He revealed that one of the resolutions of the conference, which was facilitated by the World Health Organisation, was “the establishment of coordinating mechanism for all the ECOWAS countries, plus all the Central African countries, on how to ensure that we share common strategies, best practices and information as we moved on.”
He explained that the spread of Ebola was “just unfortunate”, as the late Patrick Sawyer, whose was the index case, travelled to Nigeria against the warnings of his own country.
“How he ended up travelling and not disclosing full information to those who were asking (is unknown). Even on the hospital bed he was still denying. Its just unfortunate that he just brought this into Nigeria, but then it tells you that every country of the world is indeed at risk”, he said.
He, however, gave assurances that the global community was aware of this risk and there were efforts to address it.
“This week the W.H.O is meeting in Geneva to review all strategies that are in place and to see if anything more drastic could be suggested.
“Even in-country here in Nigeria, we are working as a team; Federal Government, Lagos State Government, other state governments, W.H.O, US Centre for Diseases Control and Prevention. We continue to review the strategies we are putting in place.”
Speaking on the focus of the strategy being deployed, he noted that communication was paramount, beyond information, as there was need to always share information and this, he said, the states and Federal Government were “doing very well”.
He stated that the President has been supportive of the Federal Ministry of Health by inaugurating an inter-ministerial committee for communication strategies, and eight ministers, whose offices are relevant, were serving on the committee. They include the Ministers of Communication Technology, Foreign Affairs, Agriculture, Interior, Aviation, Science and Technology and the Minister of Information, who chairs the committee.
Asides the use of electronic media to run jingles, which had started since March 2014, the Health Minister disclosed that the scope of communication had been widened with the launch of a new website: www.ebolaalert.org which is an interactive website that accommodates sharing of suggestions, airing complains and answering questions from citizens. This is in addition to accounts being opened on social media platforms; Facebook and Twitter.
A toll-free telephone line; ‘0800EBOLAHELP’ has also been launched for the public, dedicated to reaching the health agencies and help desks set up to attend to citizens.
Other strategies include diagnosis, which he said has been greatly improved to the delight of the country’s development partners, adding that they would continue to upgrade.
Border screening was also mentioned as part of the strategies. This include temperature screening and data collection of all passengers entering the country. He added that there had been a directive for corpses not to be brought into the country without proper death certificates.
He cited the cases reported in Anambra and Imo states as examples of how the issue of corpse screening would be handled. He insisted that the responsibility was on the families of the dead persons to prove the cause of death, while the corpses would also be subjected to tests by Nigerian authorities.
Many citizens have expressed the view that the doctors’ strike was a blessing in disguise for Nigeria, owing to the view that the Liberian carrier of the Ebola virus would have been taken to a public hospital where there are usually more patients and this would have led to a possibly uncontrollable spread, but Professor Chukwu believes that while this could be a valid opinion, the country still remained at a disadvantage with the doctors being on strike.
Although, according to the Minister, the non-availability of doctors in government hospitals across the country hadn’t affected the management of the Ebola virus yet, he warned that there were possibilities of more cases of the virus springing up in the coming days and at this point more experts would be needed to manage it.
He appealed to the striking doctors to get back to work as most of their requests had been addressed by the Federal Government.
He said that the reasons for the doctors’ refusal to resume work could only be answered by the leadership of the Nigerian Medical Association, as all relevant authorities and stakeholders had intervened in the matter and he could not explain why the doctors have refused to resume.
Nigerians have also expressed fear that Nigeria lacked the infrastructural capacity in its health sector to handle the outbreak of Ebola.
The Health Minister, while admitting that there was dire need for the country to move faster in that aspect, said that work had commenced on providing more isolation facilities across the country and within the hospitals to prevent the spread of the virus.
He commended the Lagos State Government for providing the required facilities to quarantine and treat patients. “Given the way Lagos State has been proactive in this matter, I want to commend the authorities of Lagos State. I believe still working with them, they will be able to provide additional spaces”, he said.
The Minister also promised to do more on sensitizing young Nigerians on the Ebola virus. He revealed that the Ministry had commenced work on collaborating with schools across the country to provide proper information to the students.
Ebola and Bush Meat
On the suspected cause of the virus, Prof Chukwu maintained an earlier plea that Nigerians who consider bats as delicacies should avoid its consumption and that of other bush meat as they could have been in contact with bats.
He, however, added that those processing the bats and other bush meat were more in danger of contracting the Ebola virus as they are the ones who handle the animals in their raw state. He explained that the meat, if well heated up, could be free of the Ebola virus.
The Honourable Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, says a total of 24 persons died in the bomb blast at the Emab Shopping Plaza in Wuse 2, Abuja on Wednesday.
In the new record, 52 others were injured in the blast that occurred barely two months after bomb explosions around the Nyanya Motor Park in the outskirt of Abuja.
Professor Chukwu, who visited the victims of the bomb blast at the Maitama, Wuse and Asokoro District Hospitals and the National Hospital, Abuja, on Friday morning, said 20 of the victims died before they got to the hospitals while four died shortly after arrival.
He explained that one of the four victims died in Maitama District Hospital while the other three died in the National Hospital Abuja.
“Presently there are all together 27 patients receiving treatment in various hospitals in Abuja. Others have been discharged and being treated as out-patients.
“I would have wished that more people did not die at the site because the hospital has been able to save virtually all the people that were brought here alive.
“My wish is that when this kind of thing happens, people can still survive but I am impressed with how the victims are taking care of here,” he said.
Over 2,000 delegates from around the world gathered in Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday, as the World Health Assembly meeting opens to deliberate on a dozen of issues including climate change and health, drug resistance and how to reduce the impact of non-communicable diseases.
As the meeting opens, the World Health Organisation’s Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan, voiced her deep concern about worldwide increase in childhood obesity, with numbers climbing fastest in developing countries.
At the end of the five-day meeting the supreme decision-making body of the World Health Organisation (WHO) will take its stand on the issues.
Delegates from Africa joined others to make up the 194 WHO member countries attending the 67th world health meeting where decisions that promote health and ease the burden of global diseases are taken.
Like his counterparts from other countries, Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Dr Onyebuchi Chukwu, said Nigeria had made tangible efforts at addressing health issues.
The delegates will hold discussion that will provide workable resolutions to health challenges around the world.