2015: Health Minister Under Pressure To Run For Governor

Onyebuchi Chukwu on Ebola Virus.Governor Martins Elechi of Ebonyi State has confirmed the story making the rounds that he and the people of the state are appealing to the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, to contest the next governorship election in the state.

He said although the minister has no ambition of becoming the state governor or holding any other political office, the state needed a person like Chukwu who is serious-minded to take over from him.

Elechi spoke with state house correspondents shortly after meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan.

He however said the development was not against the directive of the People’s Democratic Party’s National Working Committee that forbids state governors from endorsing candidates for the next election.

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.

US Urges Nigeria To Assist Neighbouring Countries Contain Ebola Spread

EbolaThe US Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield, has called on Nigeria to assist other West African countries in the containment of the Ebola Virus Disease.

She made the appeal after meeting with the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, in Abuja on Thursday.

Mrs Thomas-Greenfield who is in Nigeria on official visit to attend a security Nigeria-US Bi-National Commission meeting to discuss issues on health and politics commended “the minister, his staff and the government of Nigeria on how they effectively deal with the Ebola outbreak here in Nigeria.

“They are taking all the right steps to stop this andthey are having great success here. I appeal to the Minister to assist neighbours in Liberia and Sierra-Leone as they also grapple with this terrible outbreak”, she said.

She further expressed concerns “over the spread of the Ebola disease in Liberia, Sierra-Leone and Guinea” adding that “efforts are being made proactively every single day with the support of our Centre for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organisation (WHO), and the health community around Africa and the world to support those efforts to control the outbreak in those three countries”, she said.

She also denied allegation that U.S was not ready to assist Nigeria, especially with the trial drugs.

“That is not correct; I think the Centre for Disease Control has proactively supported all the countries in the West African region in dealing with the situation. It is not about Zmapp. There were six doses of Zmapp available; they were all used.

“What is important is how to control the spread of the disease. And, that is exactly what is being done here in Nigeria; and efforts are being made to have the same kind of success in Liberia,” the American official stated.

Prof Chukwu on his part said Nigeria is her brother’s keeper, promising that “we are going to assist our sister nations”.

He also commended the efforts of the United States’ Centre for Disease Control in containing the spread of Ebola Virus Disease in Nigeria.

Ebola: Health Minister Says Few More Cases Might Emerge

EbolaNigeria’s Health Minister, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, on Thursday, gave an indication that few cases of the Ebola Virus Disease could still be recorded among the 189 people currently being observed for having physical contacts with the initial 11 people who were infected by the late Patrick Sawyer.

Chukwu, according to a statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Communication, Mr. Dan Nwomeh, stated this while declaring open, the Annual General Meeting of the Nigerian Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons in Abuja.

He said, “With a good number of secondary contacts yet to complete the 21-day incubation period, the possibility of two or three more cases could not be entirely ruled out.”

He commended the health workers who were managing patients of the EVD for their courage, compassion and sacrifice.

The Minister, who observed that nine of the 12 confirmed cases were either medical doctors or nurses, singled out the most senior physician that treated the late Sawyer, Dr. Ameyo Adedavoh.

He commended the late Adedavoh for her exceptional bravery, saying she paid with her life to ensure that many other Nigerians were not contaminated by the virus.

He said, “Dr. Adedavoh took the brunt of physically blocking the patient from running away from the First Consultants Hospital, which would have not only infected more people, but also make contact tracing difficult. I am confident that she will be honoured by Nigeria at the appropriate time”

On the status of EVD in the country, Chukwu said that the total number of confirmed cases still stood at 12, with five dead, five successfully managed and discharged, while the remaining two were currently undergoing treatment at the isolation ward in Lagos.

Ondo NMA Protest Sack Of Resident Doctors

resident doctors2Medical doctors in Ondo State have staged a peaceful street protest against the sack of 16,000 resident doctors by the Federal Government of Nigeria.

The doctors, most of whom were dressed in their white overall and armed with placards, chanted solidarity songs to drive home their demands.

The State Chairman of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Bamidele Betiku, told newsmen that the demands of doctor include the reinstatement of sacked doctors, adequate protection for doctors and insurance package for them also.

Doctors had embarked on a nationwide and indefinite strike on July 1 to drive home their demands from the Federal Government of Nigeria.

The resident doctors were unceremoniously relieved of their jobs after the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, on Wednesday, issued a directive terminating the residency training programme for doctors in the country until further notice.

Ebola-Hit Countries Must Screen All Departing Travellers – WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday that authorities in countries affected by Ebola should check people departing at international airports, seaports and major border crossings and stop anyone with signs of the virus from travelling.

The U.N. health agency reiterated that the risk of getting infected with Ebola on an aircraft was small, as infected people are usually too ill to travel, and said that the risk is also very low to travellers in affected countries, namely Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

There was no need for wider travel or trade restrictions, the WHO said in a statement.

“Affected countries are requested to conduct exit screening of all persons at international airports, seaports and major land crossings, for unexplained febrile illness consistent with potential Ebola infection.

Any person with an illness consistent with EVD (Ebola Virus Disease) should not be allowed to travel unless the travel is part of an appropriate medical evacuation.

If a traveller has stayed in areas where Ebola cases have been reported recently, he or she should seek medical care at the first sign of illness – fever, headache, sore throat, diarrhoea, vomiting, among other symptoms,” the WHO said, noting that “early treatment can improve prognosis.”

Countries that do not have Ebola cases must strengthen their capacity to detect and contain any cases immediately, the WHO said, but it did not recommend any active screening of arriving passengers.

“It is better if countries do screening on the front-end,” WHO spokesman, Gregory Hartl, said.

Nigerian Woman Suspected Of Ebola Dies In UAE

ebola-health-workers
Ebola-health-workers

The national airline of the United Arab Emirates, Etihad Airways, said on Monday that it has disinfected one of its planes after health authorities there announced that a Nigerian woman who died after flying in to the capital, Abu Dhabi, may have been infected with the Ebola virus.

The health authority in Abu Dhabi said in a statement carried by state news agency, WAM, that the 35-year-old woman was traveling from Nigeria to India for treatment of advanced metastatic cancer.

Her health was said to have deteriorated while in transit at Abu Dhabi International Airport. The statement added that as medics were trying to resuscitate her, they found signs that suggested a possible Ebola virus infection.

The health authority noted, however, that her preexisting medical condition also could have explained her death.

The health authority statement added that medical staff treating the woman followed safety and precautionary measures in line with World Health Organization guidelines.

The woman’s husband, who was the only person sitting next to her on the plane, as well as five medics who treated her, are being isolated pending test results on the deceased woman.

All are in good health and show no symptoms of the illness, according to health officials.

Etihad Airways, the UAE’s national carrier, said that the plane was disinfected in line with guidelines laid out by the airline industry’s main trade group.

It said it continues to monitor the situation and is working with health authorities “to ensure the implementation of any and all measures necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of its passengers and staff.”

Four Additional Ebola Patients Discharged – Health Minister

ebola-outbreak-in-ugandaThe Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, has said that four additional confirmed cases of Ebola Virus Disease, who have been managed successfully and are now disease free, have been discharged.

Those discharged are two male medical doctors and one female nurse.

The three participated in the treatment of the index case while the fourth person was a female patient at the time the index case was on admission.

This brings to five, the total number of patients diagnosed with Ebola Virus Disease who have now been discharged from hospital.

Resident Doctors’ Suspension Reminiscent Of Draconian Military Laws- Tope Ojo

Resident doctorsThe Lagos State Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr Tope Ojo, has condemned the suspension of resident doctors by the Federal Government, describing it as laws seen only during the “draconian military era” which “gives sad nostalgia”.

He also accused the Federal Government of “neglecting  the key challenges that should be addressed”.

He berated the Federal Government for accusing the resident doctors of performing below average, and reiterated the call for the restructuring of the residency programme to ensure the production of the highest level of medical specialists. This, he added, is part of the 24 demand made by the NMA to the Federal Government.

He said the decision was coming at a wrong time because “there is a high level of inadequacy” in the sector, which had forced some Nigerians to go abroad for treatment, adding that “employment into the residency programme is haphazard. When you pass your primaries, they will be looking for space all around” to accommodate you.

“If you have a residency board, this will be holistically looked at and you will have a placement arrangement that will be handled by this board,” he said.

He emphasised the importance of the resident doctors in the medical sector saying “the residents form the bulk”. “You can have a board where you have four consultants and about 20 residents at different level of training. They participate profusely, deeply and seriously in the training of medical students; which means that there will be no medical training that will go on,” Dr Ojo emphasised.

He also added that the “post graduate resident training has to do with the mid level training of the middle level manpower in the health sector.

“They are people going through a minimum period of six years in different fields,” he maintained.

Dr Ojo also stated that apart from resident doctors conducting over 50 per cent of the tutorials in the medical schools, their contributions in hospitals is vital to the survival of the health sector

He said if the suspension was not withdrawn, “major surgical operations are shut” because “the consultants don’t perform operations alone”.

“The resident doctors prepare patients for the operation from the clinic,” he said, insisting that a neurosurgeon can’t perform an operation with the help of a medical officer.

Dr Ojo, however, called on Nigeria’s political class to patronise Nigerian health institutions and to desist from “picking policies that will shut down operations in the health sector”.

He also noted that the suspension was a calculated attempt by the Federal Government to break the ranks of the NMA, but  he assured that the association “remains stronger”. “Our minimum condition to resume negotiation is for government to reverse this unpalatable decision,” he said.

FG Justifies Sack Of Resident Doctors

Meanwhile the Federal Government in a statement by the Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, justified the suspension of the Residency Training Programme in all federal hospitals, “as part of efforts to reposition the public health sector”.

Professor Chuwku also said that “the quality of training has also progressively declined over the last decade despite recent efforts by the Jonathan Administration to revamp it”.

The Minister also added that the Residency Training Programme in all hospital in recent times had been beset by numerous challenges, including poor performance and unsatisfactory conduct of the resident doctors.

“The terms of admission to the Residency Training Programmes stipulate that either party (employer or employee) may terminate the relationship by giving one month notice or one month salary in lieu of notice.

“Accordingly, all affected doctors will receive one month salary in lieu of one month notice. One of the reasons for employer-initiated determination of the appointment, according to terms of the probationary residency appointment, is unsatisfactory performance by the resident doctor,” he said.

The Minister, however, stressed that “only resident doctors under the employ of the Federal Government are affected. Resident doctors employed by state governments in their hospitals and by private hospitals are not affected”.

FG Confirms Death Of 4th Ebola Patient

Minister_of_Health_Professor_Onyebuchi_ChukwuThe Federal Government has confirmed the death of another nurse who had primary contact with the late American- Liberian, Patrick Sawyer, on Thursday.

A statement issued by the Minister of Health, Prof.Chukwu Onyebuchi, in Abuja on Thursday, noted that the nurse is the fourth person to have died of the Ebola Virus Disease in the country.

He also said that the number of confirmed cases of persons with the Ebola Virus Disease is ten and not eleven as earlier reported.

Chukwu noted that she was one of the health workers that had primary contact with Mr Sawyer .

He said, “The fourth death recorded today was a Nigerian nurse who participated in the initial management of the index case. We have now recorded 10 confirmed cases of Ebola Virus Disease. Out of these, four have died and eight are currently under treatment.”

The minister also apologised for the error in the number of confirmed cases given to journalists at a press briefing organised by the Federal Ministry of Health in Abuja earlier in the day.

Chukwu noted, “It is important to note that the number of confirmed cases remains 10 as at today and not 11 as earlier announced this morning. We regret the error which arose from double counting in the process of communicating the additional death from the operational centre in Lagos to the Federal Ministry of Health.”

Concerned Family On Ebola Patients

Meanwhile, Concerned family members and friends of the medical doctor down with Ebola virus disease and quarantined in Lagos are worried over what they call the inadequate medical treatment all the patients are currently receiving.

The patients who are among those who had primary contact with late Patrick Sawyer have been kept at the infectious disease hospital in Lagos.

While acknowledging that the Ebola disease is alien to Nigeria’s health system, the family members and friends led by Dr. Ladi Okuboyejo, said basic facilities at the hospital need improvement.

They also called on international health agencies for medical help for the patients.

 

 

Ebola: FG Directs Commercial Drivers to Screen Sick Passengers

Minister_of_Health_Professor_Onyebuchi_Chukwu
Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu

After ensuring that passengers are screened at airports before and after departure, the Federal Government has come up with a policy to check the land transport system. 

The Federal Government on Tuesday, August 12, directed commercial drivers to demand medical reports from sick passengers before conveying them to their destinations.

This is part of efforts at containing the spread of the Ebola virus disease according to the Minister of Health, Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu.

Road transport owners have also been advised to seek for a certificate of waiver for corpses before being transported from one part of the country to another.

While the newly introduced effort at managing the spread of the Ebola virus through land transport is described as a welcomed development, members of the Road Transport Owners Association believe that the provision of gadgets that could check passenger temperature is also necessary.

Ten Reported Cases

The Federal Government of Nigeria had  confirmed a tenth case of the Ebola Virus Disease in Lagos State.

Addressing journalists in Abuja on Monday, the Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, said the tenth Ebola case was diagnosed in a nurse who had primary contact with late Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian with the first case of the disease.

“So far a total of 177 primary and secondary contacts of the index case had been placed under surveillance,”Professor Chukwu said.

‘National Emergency’

President Goodluck Jonathan had last week, declared the control and containment of the Ebola Virus in Nigeria a ‘National Emergency’.

He further directed the Federal Ministry of Health to work in collaboration with the State Ministries of Health, the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and other relevant agencies to ensure that all possible steps were taken to effectively contain the threat of the Ebola Virus in line with international protocols and best practices.

To further strengthen on-going steps to contain the virus, President Jonathan approved a Special Intervention Plan and the immediate release of 1.9 billion Naira for its implementation.

The fund would be used for the establishment of additional isolation centres, case management, contact tracing, deployment of additional personnel, screening at borders and the procurement of required items and facilities.

Health Minister Seeks Military’s Help In Finding Cure To Ebola

Onyebuchi_Chukwu_Ebola
Nigeria’s Health Minister, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu

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.