A Salute To Nigeria’s Ebola Success

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nigeria_flag“We cannot however miss this opportunity to point out some of the useful lessons to be taken away from the successful arrest of the ebola virus in Nigeria. Quite clearly, collaboration among key stakeholders gave us the cheery results. ..It was a perfect collaboration that worked for the benefit of all…If only we could apply this template of collaboration (where national interest supercedes, personal, ethnic or political interests) and utilize it in all other aspects of our lives, there is no doubt that we can achieve more as a nation and we would march assuredly to our envisioned greatness”.

It is ironic that it took a highly effective handling of the frightening incursion of ebola from neighbouring Liberia into Nigeria to put the nation back into high reckoning at the national and international arena. It would be recalled that on Sunday July, 20, 2014, Patrick Sawyer a Liberian-American arrived Lagos, Nigeria aboard a Togolese Asky Airlines aircraft feeling sick and probably knowing full well that he was carrying the ebola virus.

His illness took a turn for the worse when he began to throw up during his flight and upon arrival he was rushed to First Consultants Hospitals in Obalende, Lagos for medical attention. Curiously, Mr. Sawyer denied having gone near anybody who was infected of ebola recently when the truth was that he was by his sister when she was sick and when she died of ebola. Nonetheless Dr. Stella Adadevoh, the consultant physician that led the team attending to him did not take chances as she isolated Patrick Sawyer and decided to screen him for ebola. The results turned out positive and fear and apprehension gripped the nation!

However, the rare leadership of the federal government and the efficiency of the Lagos State health system combined effectively to provide care and treatment for patients; limit the spread of the virus and eventually halt the spread of ebola in Nigeria. The federal government responded swiftly with a declaration of national emergency while the Lagos government recruited a group of young aggressive contact tracers who, using the emergency declaration by President Goodluck Jonathan, followed the contacts with policemen. An initial set of 195 persons were put under surveillance, checking and questioning every contact and monitoring their body temperatures every day and reporting to a central command. Entry and exit screening was also introduced at borders and ports. While decontamination of areas domiciled and visited by patients and suspected carriers was vigorously done.

Unfortunately, checking ebola came at a painful cost. 20 infections were recorded while 8 of the infected died. Among them was Dr. Stella Ameyo Adedevoh who against pressure from Mr. Sawyer and diplomats from the Liberian embassy, refused to release Sawyer to travel for a conference in Calabar and instead quarantined him. Her astute professionalism helped curb the ebola virus in no small measure. The nation owes her a debt of gratitude.

The minster for health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu and Dr. Jide Idris, and the Lagos state commissioner for health deserve commendation for their efficiency at their jobs. The brave virology experts and volunteers from Nigeria and abroad who came in to confront the dreaded ebola virus deserve special praise and recognition while the governor of Lagos state, Mr. Babatunde Fashola and President Goodluck Jonathan have etched their names in gold in the quality of leadership they provided at a most frightful period of our history. It is further heart-warming to see that Nigeria is now seen across the world as a model for the containment of the ebola virus with the resultant trips to Nigeria by even developed countries such as the US to learn from us. We give kudos to all those that contributed to the successful containment of ebola as we also commiserate with the families and friends of the victims of the deadly virus.

We cannot however miss this opportunity to point out some of the useful lessons to be taken away from the successful arrest of the ebola virus in Nigeria. Quite clearly, collaboration among key stakeholders gave us the cheery results. First is the availability of seasoned professionals in the hospitals to handle the index case and others. Second is the information sharing by a key professional, Dr. Stella Adadevoh to relevant regulatory bodies including Lagos state, the federal government and the world health organization. Third is the Lagos state government which has perhaps the most efficient health delivery system in Nigeria responded appropriately by deploying global best procedures to trace primary and secondary contacts of the index case, monitor them, isolate those who fall ill and provide treatment and care while fourthly, the federal government introduced appropriate policies to support and complement the effort of the professionals and the Lagos state government. It was a perfect collaboration that worked for the benefit of all.

If only we could apply this template of collaboration (where national interest supercedes, personal, ethnic or political interests) and utilize it in all other aspects of our lives, there is no doubt that we can achieve more as a nation and we would march assuredly to our envisioned greatness.

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