Ebola: Nigeria Must Create Legal Policy To Curb Stigmatization – Strategist

EbolaAn Economist and Communication Strategist, Dr. Olaniyi Ibidapo, says stigmatization is one of the effects of any outbreak of diseases which comes out of fear, misinformation or misrepresentation of situations.

Speaking on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, he stated that except Nigeria comes up with “a legal policy and awareness creation among the populace, stigmatization would be a serious problem in the future.”

With a background of having done extensive research in Communications strategies with a bias for Health communication, Ibidapo recommended “multidimensional, multifaceted approaches” in sensitizing the populace on the facts about the Ebola Virus.

He explained that this is based on the notion that “the more the approaches, the more the effect of realising the goal.

Most of these approaches are international templates that have not been adequately tested, so you cannot measure the effectiveness immediately. So you cannot rely on one approach,” he said.

Mass media, sensitization and training were among the approaches highlighted by Ibidapo but he noted that the community being involved remained an important feature in all the approaches.

He stated that the prevalence of the Ebola Virus Disease has been within the communities and “whatever the implementations you’re going to take on this Ebola outbreak, communities have to be involved.

When I mean communities, it has to be the religious organisations, the MDAs, the NGOs, the individuals and the corporate bodies. This is the big opportunity for the corporate bodies in Nigeria to take advantage of, because Ebola is everybody’s business now.”

Speaking further on the issue of Ebola stigmatization, Dr. Ibidapo stated that Nigeria would need to improve its health infrastructure as this would help the country.

However, he noted, “Ebola victims need to come out and let people know they are still alive. That is why policy implication has to start because when Government backs it up with a law – Ebola health policy – this will help us in identifying and recognizing that we could curb Ebola spread.”

While he appreciated the Nigerian culture, which he says is communal and does not necessarily encourage the idea of victims coming out, he maintained that an upgrade of Nigeria’s health infrastructure would help build some confidence.

He also highlighted the level illiteracy in Nigeria as another challenge. “The population is huge, a lot of people are educated but are they really informed?”

The Consultant refused to blame citizens for the discriminative attitude towards Ebola survivors as he admitted that indeed fear was responsible for this, but “with information we will understand that once it is cured, it is cured.”

He made reference to a Channels Television report which featured an Ebola survivor who has suffered stigmatization.

As we have seen, he is healthy, he is hale and he is active. The society needs to support him, the Government needs to back him up in terms of establishing a policy, making it a law and making sure that they prosecute any offender.

It is an offence to infringe on the other person’s human rights – rights of association and right to work. It is a serious offence within our system here.”

He called for support for the survivors of the EVD, with emphasis on the need for everybody to be involved.

Ebola Virus Disease: Number Of Confirmed Cases Stands At 19

EbolaThe total number of confirmed cases of Ebola virus disease in Nigeria stands at 19, 15 of which are in Lagos and four in Port Harcourt, and that’s according to the Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu.

The 19th case, according to the Minister is the fiancé of one of the primary contacts with Mr Sawyer who died of the disease.

The test results of the said case were unclear but further tests established the disease with only mild symptoms which he has since recovered from.

The Minister added that he was quarantined but because of the initial nature of his test results, he was not placed on active treatment.

The Minister further revealed that the total number of deaths from the Ebola virus disease in Nigeria stands at seven, five of which happened in Lagos and the other two in Port Harcourt, while the total number of patients who have been successfully managed and discharged stands at nine.

The latest is the sister of the Port Harcourt doctor who was discharged from the isolation ward in Rivers State on Sunday .

At the moment only one person, the wife of the Port Harcourt doctor, is on treatment in the isolation ward in Lagos and the Minister says she no longer has any symptoms and is undergoing series of tests preparatory to her discharge from the isolation ward this week.

Regarding contacts currently under surveillance in Lagos, the minister said that there were 27 contacts still under surveillance while a total of 339 contacts, who were previously on surveillance, have been discharged having completed 21 days of observation,.

However, in Port Harcourt, 477 contacts are under surveillance.

The Minister has urged countries around the world to desist from profiling individuals from countries currently grappling with the Ebola virus.

Ebola: Port Harcourt Doctor’s Sister Discharged From Isolation

EbolaThe sister of the first victim of Ebola virus disease in Port Harcourt, Dr. Iyke Samuel Enemuo, Chinyere, who also tested positive to the virus, has been discharged from the isolation centre, Oduoha – Emohua.

Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Sampson Parker, disclosed this to journalists in Port Harcourt on Monday morning.

He said that Chinyere has been successfully managed and is now negative and immune to the Ebola virus.

A primary contact of index case, Mr. Patrick Sawyer and also an ECOWAS official, had evaded surveillance in the last week of July 2014 and travelled out of Lagos to Port Harcourt where he consulted with the late Dr. Enemuo and was allegedly secretly treated for some symptoms.

After four days, following a manhunt for him, the ECOWAS official returned to Lagos by which time he was found to be without symptoms.

However, Dr Enemuo died after some days, with investigation and laboratory analysis showing that he died from EVD which he must have contracted during the secluded treatment.

As a result, several contacts have been traced, registered and placed under surveillance, including his sister, Chinyere, who has now been successfully managed and discharged.


Ebola: Rivers Government Was Prepared For Eventuality – Amaechi

Amaechi 2Following the confirmation that Ebola Virus had gained entrance into Rivers State and the placement of over 200 person under medical surveillance, the Governor Chibuike Ameachi, on Tuesday assured the citizens and the country that the government had the situation under control.

Appearing as a guest on Sunrise Daily, Governor Amaechi noted that his administration had started preparations, since Ebola was confirmed in Lagos, by disbursing about 300 million Naira for the purchase of materials and setting up a training programme for doctors.

He explained that the state did not act in time, compared to the situation in Lagos State, because the individual who introduced Ebola Virus to the State, Olu Ibukun Koye, had been unreachable for two days after arrival in Port Harcourt and he later travelled back to Lagos. Upon interrogation, he denied he had been in contact with other people.

“If he had said – yes, I was in Port Harcourt, yes – I saw the doctor”, the doctor and his family would have been placed under surveillance and the need to place over 200 under watch would have been non-existent, the governor explained.

The doctor who treated the EVD victim and his wife, had denied attending to him and had gone ahead to host several people for a child-naming ceremony. Also, when the doctor died, his wife allowed people from Anambra to pay her condolence visits.

Consequently, the residents of the state had been exposed for three weeks.

However, the “tracking and tracing has been wonderful”, Amaechi said, disclosing that the Federal and Lagos State governments, World Health Organisation (WHO), Doctors Without Borders (DWB) and other organisations have been of help.

The governor warned that no one should politicise the issue as those under watch had only been quarantined in their homes and not kept in isolation (at the medical centre).

He also encouraged residents to check themselves into the medical centres to be on the safe side.

Equipped Medical Facilities In The State

Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi also said  the health centres in Rivers State is well equipped and was ready for any outbreak.

He said that the state has about 140-150 health centres, adding that one of health centres has been converted into an Ebola Centre in the state and  doctors treating these Ebola victims live in the health centres, “Before Ebola we had provided quarters for medical workers in every health centre and not in Port Harcourt alone but  in the rural areas of the state.

“We were prepared for any form of disease either Ebola or HIV he added”

Governor Amaechi stated that when he resumed office as governor of the state there were only 200 doctor but presently the state has about 600.

The governor mentioned that the state has benefited from the Lagos experience.