Recently news that there was a resurgence of Ebola Virus Disease in countries like Sierra Leone and Liberia spread like wild fire, although these countries have been certified Ebola free. Executive Secretary, FCT Primary Health Care Board, Dr. Rilwanu Mohammed spoke with Joyce Remi- Babayeju on steps to prevent the devastating and deadly disease in Nigeria.
The last strike of Ebola Virus Disease, EDV, in countries like Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea caused about 4,807 deaths according to WHO report. The disease which has thrown families and nations into perpetual economic and human resource loss is at the brink of spreading again if nothing is done to curtail its spread to many more countries.
Precisely two weeks ago, the case of a 17 year old boy who died of Ebola and two more cases were reported by Liberian Health Ministry. Before then, Sierra Leone reported cases of Ebola and these reports have made people to be jittery and governments panicked over possible outbreak of the deadly disease in the Western Sub Saharan region.
Particularly, Nigerians have been panic-stricken over a likely resurgence of Ebola in the country which was linked to the visit of a Liberian diplomat, Mr. Patrick Sawyyer, who came into Nigeria through the Lagos International Airport on his way to a meeting in Cross River State. Fortunately, he was detected at the Lagos Airport before his transit to Calabar, and later died.
Now Nigerians are asking; what is government doing to stop the deadly disease before it gets back into the country.
At the break of the unsavory news, the Ministry of Health advised Nigerians not to panic but to be vigilant. “Members of the public are advised to observe basic hygiene and report any suspected case to the nearest health facility.”
In order to educate the people, the ministry gave an insight on the likely symptoms of EVD. It said it must be noted that the main symptoms of the Ebola Virus Disease are fever, severe headache, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea. Patients in some cases, also have neurological symptoms of becoming confused and restless.
To address the challenges of the development in neighbouring Liberia, the Federal Ministry of Health, FMOH, said it is reactivating its response mechanism and increasing the level of its alertness. All state ministries of health and health facilities are hereby advised to raise their alert level and report any suspected case to the Federal Ministry of Health.
Just like Lagos, FCT is also an entry point because it is the capital of the nation and also the economic and administrative nerve of the nation. And so it could be vulnerable because of the influx of people for different reasons.
The Executive Secretary of FCT, PHC Board and the FCT Chairman of Ebola Entry Committee, Dr. Rilwanu Mohammed in the same vein, in an interview with Nigerian Pilot said there is no reason for Nigerians to panic because of the resurgence of Ebola in Liberia. The Federal Government is reviving surveillance structures to prevent it from entering the country, Rilwanu said.
‘’Really Nigerians should not panic; we are going to inaugurate our committee to start work because the government has started talking to us. Directors of Entry committees are working to make sure that the whole intervention at the airport starts again.’’
This is to make sure that all the people coming into the country are checked by using the thermometers to check people coming into Nigeria from those endemic countries.
FG is on the right course because of the inauguration on ground, of rejuvenating of the committees. The former committee was a surveillance team to keep an eye on all people with fever and suspected cases coming from endemic countries.
In the FCT, for instance, one of the interventions is that there is a centre for Ebola surveillance in Kuje Area Council, a hospital designed with all the necessary protocol with two trained drivers and two ambulances ready for response of any Ebola case. Also we are going to strike up at the airport to also support government with what they are already doing.
And we are going to be very careful with those coming in with feverish conditions into the country from those risk countries. We should be able to quarantine them and isolate them for 21 days and keep watch over them.
Also there would be restricting movement from here to those countries like Liberia and Sierra Leone and those other countries. For those going to those countries they should exhibit high sense of personal and environmental hygiene. They should be very care so that when they shake hands they should wash it before eating.
Then in all the public places, there should be rejuvenation of hand sanitizers or soap and water in those places for people to use.
He suggested that government should give rules that hand sanitizers must be put in public places instead of waiting for the unexpected because, according to him, before you know it people will start moving from one place to another.
He assured that, because the world is a global village, one Ebola case in one country can affect many others in another country; and so temporally in the next three weeks, the Federal Government should ban people from going from Nigeria to Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.
“Nigerians are very careful people when it comes to health vigilance. This has helped us in containing transmission of Ebola in the country. But in other countries if a case is reported, people may even enter plane to see it firsthand.”
According to him, “One good thing is that WHO has produced a vaccine, although it is still on trial, it is promising. Apart from Zimap for treatment of Ebola, there is a vaccine on trial for it.”
He advised Nigerians to still “watch out for early symptoms of EVD, which include fever, headache, chills, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, sore throat, backache, and arthritis while later symptoms include bleeding from the eyes, ears and nose, bleeding from the mouth and rectum, eye swelling, swelling of the genitals and rashes all over the body that often contains blood and which could progress to coma, shock and death.’’