Experts Want Nigerians To Sustain Mechanisms In Ebola Fight


Ebola virus

AS some West African countries continue to battle the resurgence of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak, public health experts have warned Nigerians not to relax in the fight against the virus.

The advice is coming just as the Liberian Government announced two more cases of EVD on Thursday, bringing to five confirmed cases of EVD in Liberia.

The recent outbreak started when Liberia announced in June that a 17-year-old boy had died of the tropical fever after spreading it to two other people, the first cases of infection for more than three months.

But President of the Association of Medical Officers of Health in Nigeria (AMOHN) and Public Relations Officer (PRO) of Society for Public Health Professionals of Nigeria (SPHPN), Dr Yahya Oyewoga Disu, said the current outbreak in Liberia is a clarion call to Nigeria to strengthen her health surveillance system.

Disu, who participated in the Ebola outbreak containment in Nigeria as well as volunteered along some Nigerians who recently went to Liberia for the containment of Ebola under the African Union Support to Ebola Outbreak in West Africa (ASEOWA), said: “The important thing for us to do right now is to strengthen surveillance. From the last outbreak in Nigeria, we have already integrated Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) into our routine surveillance system.

“Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is still in the West African sub-region. Ebola moves with people and people move from one country to another, especially during the incubation period when the disease has not manifested. So, we need to engage our communities to create awareness so that they can voluntarily report when they see people manifesting the symptoms of Ebola. Also, people in our communities need to embrace regular hand-washing practices, and they should report a suspected case promptly. Moreover, they should not stigmatise anyone suspected of Ebola.

“People should be honest about it. Whoever thinks he has Ebola should willingly report him or herself. If he or she does not do so, the people who may be victims of the disease may be his or her loved ones. It is also important that people know how Ebola is transmitted through the body fluid like urine, blood, vomit and semen. So if they want to save their loved onees, they need to report suspected cases. Persons with suspected case of Ebola have higher chance of surviving if they report themselves for prompt treatment.”

Former Secretary General of the Lagos State Chapter of the Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria (APHPN), Dr Jumoke Salisu-Olatunji, said authorities at the Port Health Services needs to intensify screening at port of entry, even as she added that hand-washing practice should never be relegated to the background.

Salisu-Olatunji said: “We need to learn our lesson from our past experience. All the health education and awareness that were instituted last year really helped Nigeria during her past experience. We should not keep quite and go to sleep right now. We need to sustain those mechanisms that were put in place. Sadly, those mechanisms like the temperature checks at public places; hand washing practice and the use of hand sanitiser have died down.

“This is because we have experience, which we have not learnt from. From individuals to communities, we should sustain those lessons we have learnt. We need to sustain hand washing and hand sanitizer usage, where water is not available. The onus lies on the Port Health Services authorities to prevent someone with Ebola from coming into Nigeria. They need to carry out intensive screening at the port of entry.”

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