Nigeria has defeated Ebola- WHO

2014-10-21
VANGUARD Newspaper

ABUJA—In what has been described as a spectacular success story that shows that Ebola can be contained, the World Health Organisation, WHO, has officially declared Nigeria an Ebola-free nation, urging other countries currently faced with the challenge

of contending with the epidemic to learn from Nigeria’s experience.

Announcing the declaration through its representative in Abuja, Rui Gama Vaz, the global health body said after six weeks (42 days) with no new cases, Nigeria is now free from Ebola.
FREE—From leftMinister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu and Country Representative of World Health Organization, WHO, in Nigeria celebrating exit of Ebola in Nigeria, yesterday. Photo: Gbemiga Olamikan.

FREE—From leftMinister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu and Country Representative of World Health Organization, WHO, in Nigeria celebrating exit of Ebola in Nigeria, yesterday. AFP.

WHO pointed out that the story of how Nigeria ended what many believed to be potentially the most explosive Ebola outbreak imaginable is worth telling in detail.

This came as President Goodluck Jonathan urged a sus

tained war against the disease. Also, outgoing Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu described the declaration as a major milestone of the present administration.

Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, also commended the Federal, Lagos and Rivers State governments over the feat, saying it would change the negative perception of the country by the outside world.

Nigeria Ebola free — WHO

“Today, October 20, Nigeria reached that 42-day mark and is now considered free of Ebola transmission,” WHO noted in a statement, in which it also commended the Federal Government’s strong leadership and effective coordination of the response that included the rapid establishment of an Emergency Operations Centre.

The Ebola virus was introduced into Nigeria on July 20, 2014, when an infected Liberian, (Patrick Sawyer) arrived Lagos aboard an Asky Air flight and died in hospital five days later, setting off a chain of transmissions that infected a total of 20 people, of which eight died.

According to WHO recommendations, the end of an Ebola virus disease outbreak in a country can be declared once 42 days have passed and no new cases have been detected. The 42 days represents twice the maximum incubation period for Ebola (21 days). This 42-day period starts from the last day that any person in the country had contact with a confirmed or probable Ebola case.

When the first Ebola case was confirmed in July, health officials immediately repurposed technologies and infrastructure from WHO and other partners to help find cases and track potential chains of transmission of Ebola virus disease.

WHO, United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), or Doctors Without Borders, UNICEF and other partners supported the Nigerian Government with expertise for outbreak investigation, risk assessment, contact tracing and clinical care.

The body noted that strong public awareness campaigns, teamed with early engagement of traditional, religious and community leaders, also played a key role in successful containment of this outbreak.

Speaking in Abuja, WHO representative, Rui Gama Vaz, who urged other countries to learn from Nigeria said an aggressive government response and effective contact tracing helped keep the virus in check in Nigeria.

Be vigilant

“I will like to take this opportunity on behalf of the WHO Director-General, Margaret Chan, to congratulate the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria through President Goodluck Jonathan. Many wealthy countries, with outstanding health systems, may have something to learn as well,” Vaz said, warning that Nigeria must continue to remain vigilant for any suspected case and adhere strictly to WHO guidelines.
A picture taken in Oshodi Heritage park in Lagos on October 20, 2014 shows an electronic information board on Ebola reading in pidgin English "No Shaking ! We go Chase Ebola Comot" which means "No cause for worry, we will chase Ebola away". Africa's most populous nation Nigeria was on Monday declared officially Ebola free but warned that it remained vulnerable as long as the virus was raging elsewhere in west Africa. The country representative of the World Health Organization, Rui Gama Vaz, said 42 days -- or two incubation periods of 21 days -- had elapsed without any new confirmed cases of the deadly virus. AFP PHOTO

A picture taken in Oshodi Heritage park in Lagos on October 20, 2014 shows an electronic information board on Ebola reading in pidgin English “No Shaking ! We go Chase Ebola Comot” which means “No cause for worry, we will chase Ebola away”. Africa’s most populous nation Nigeria was on Monday declared officially Ebola free but warned that it remained vulnerable as long as the virus was raging elsewhere in west Africa. The country representative of the World Health Organization, Rui Gama Vaz, said 42 days — or two incubation periods of 21 days — had elapsed without any new confirmed cases of the deadly virus. AFP PHOTO

The WHO representative noted: “While the outbreak now is officially over, Nigeria’s geographic positions and extensive borders make the country vulnerable to additional imported cases of the Ebola Virus Disease. It is therefore, necessary to continue vigilance for any suspected cases by strict compliance with the WHO EVD preparedness guidelines.

“Therefore, there is need to continue to work together with all states to ensure adequate preparedness and rapid response in case of any potential re-importation. It must be clear that the war has not ended, the war will only end when West Africa is also declared free of Ebola”, he reiterated.

Sustain war against Ebola — Jonathan

Reacting to the announcement, President Jonathan urged a sustained war against the disease as he welcomed the declaration of Nigeria as Ebola-free by WHO.

In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati, the President dedicated the certification to patriotic health workers, volunteers and ordinary Nigerians who supported government to defeat the virus.

Jonathan noted that the country’s globally-acclaimed success against Ebola was a testimony to what Nigerians could achieve if they set aside their differences and work together.

“President Jonathan welcomes today’s declaration by the World Health Organisation that Nigeria is now officially Ebola-free after 42 days without any incidence of the Ebola Virus Disease.

“He dedicates the certification to the many patriotic health workers, volunteers and ordinary Nigerians who worked tirelessly, some of them paying the ultimate price, to stop the deadly virus in its track after it entered the country in July.

“The President seizes this opportunity to also reiterate his appreciation of the contributions of state governments, WHO and other international health organisations; relatives of infected persons and other Nigerians who either courageously underwent the rigours of being quarantined or complied with all directives issued by health authorities to defeat the virus.

“He believes that Nigeria’s globally-acclaimed success against Ebola is a testimony to what Nigerians can achieve if they set aside their differences and work together.”

The President urged all Nigerians to remain fully alert and vigilant to guard against a re-entry of the virus.

He shared the view of the WHO that the war will only truly end when West Africa, Africa and the world are declared free of Ebola.

“Health officials should continue to actively screen persons entering the country through its air, land and sea borders for any sign of the virus”, the president said. He also urged all Nigerians to continue to follow the anti-Ebola advisories on sanitation and personal hygiene issued by Federal and State Health authorities.

The golden rules against Ebola – Chukwu

On his part, out-going Minister of Health, Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu, said it was possible for any country to control and defeat Ebola for as long as it was in consonance with the golden rules.

He said: “Nigeria has won the battle against Ebola Virus but this world war rages on other fronts in other countries. The war certainly is not over. A reinforced Ebola Virus could still invade Nigeria.

“Given this risk of possible re-infection, there is need to maintain the state of high alertness at all our ports of entry. We cannot afford to lower our guard.

“Nigeria, like other countries, will not have the control over the presentation of the disease at any of its ports of entry.

“However, it is the responsibility of the country’s surveillance system to ensure that any case presenting at any of our ports of entry is rapidly identified and isolated.

“That is the only way the country will remain safe from the Ebola Virus Disease pending its global elimination. If any cases emerge in the future, it will be considered by international standards, a separate outbreak. If that happens, Nigeria will be ready and able to confront it exactly as we have done with this outbreak.

“I am indeed gladdened that by divine providence, this declaration coincides with my leaving office as Minister of Health. As the outgoing Minister of Health, this declaration symbolically presents a dignifying seal of the achievements of the Federal Ministry of Health during my tenure as Minister of Health of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“Several people have asked me what I thought was the most critical success factor in the Nigeria’s containment effort against the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak. Undoubtedly, the most critical success factor was leadership — strong, effective, focused and committed leadership provided by President Goodluck Jonathan himself and replicated at various levels down the ladder.

“I am convinced that without this quality of leadership, it would have been extremely difficult for the EVD outbreak not only to be tamed but to be driven out of Nigeria. Next to leadership is a factor closely linked to leadership: Effective coordination of the various collaborating partners. Under a single leadership, all the contributing partners were moulded into a single, almost homogenous team. This is one factor that may be lacking in the control efforts of other countries. The private sector and the Media also played key role which greatly facilitated the containment of the disease.

“This risk and the risk to other countries can only be eliminated through the setting up of a system similar to the Nigerian one under the leadership of the United Nations but with the operational wing built around ECOWAS. The disease needs to be eliminated from every country of the world. It is only then that each country can heave a sigh of relief.

“As long as there is a case of EVD in any part of the world, every country of the world, every human being on this planet remains at risk.”

Lagos pledages N50m to FCMC

In Lagos, the Lagos State Government welcomed the development while disclosing plans to nip in the bud future outbreaks of EVD, even as it said the state may not be out of the woods yet.
Ebola Survivors: Gov. Babatunde Fashola of Lagos(4th left) with survivors of the Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, during a visit to the Governor in Lagos, yesterday. From Right: Dr. Adaora Igonoh, Dennis Akagha, Fashola, Dr. Ibeawuchi Morris, Dr. Fadipe Akinniyi and Dr. Enemuo Kelechi

Ebola Survivors: Gov. Babatunde Fashola of Lagos(4th left) with survivors of the Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, during a visit to the Governor in Lagos, yesterday. From Right: Dr. Adaora Igonoh, Dennis Akagha, Fashola, Dr. Ibeawuchi Morris, Dr. Fadipe Akinniyi and Dr. Enemuo Kelechi

Disclosing intention to present N50 million to First Consultant Medical Centre, Obalende, where the index case, Mr Patrick Sawyer died as well as undisclosed amounts to other Ebola causalities and survivors in the state as business support gesture, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, described the outbreak and the eventual containment of Ebola in the state and the country as phenomenal.

Idris, who addressed a joint media conference in Alausa, Ikeja, noted that significantly, till date Nigeria has contributed only 0.22 per cent and 0.18 per cent to global burden of suspected, probable, confirmed cases and deaths respectively.

He explained that 891 cumulative number of contacts were recorded nationally; 365 in Lagos and 526 in Rivers, while contacts that completed 21 days follow-up nationally was 890 — Lagos 365, and 525 in Rivers. A total of eight deaths recorded in all.

He said the gesture “is with a view to getting people, businesses back on their feet and for businesses to re-secure patronage of their customers.”

Health intervention mission to Sierra-Leone

On the planned deployment of health workers to Sierra-Leone, Idris disclosed that the state government had written to the Sierra-Leonian authorities on its intention. According to him, 28 health workers have signified interest and readiness to go and assist in affected countries.

“I use this medium to urge and encourage private organizations who wish to join in this good work to come on board. This is the time to do so, especially those that had earlier indicated interest or made pledges while interested individuals or groups should contact the following help line: 08000-32652-4357 and the website, http://www.ebolaalert.org/.” Idris stated.

Atiku , others laud FG, Lagos, Rivers Govts

Meanwhile, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has commended the successful eradication of Ebola virus disease in Nigeria, saying the feat would change the negative perception of the country by the outside world.

Atiku, in a press statement issued by his media office in Abuja, yesterday, said the federal, Lagos and Rivers State governments should be commended for the remarkable achievement in the face of the grimmest medical crisis that the country found itself dealing with.

He said the successful eradication of Ebola and the declaration of Nigeria as Ebola-free zone was a clear demonstration of the outcome of collaboration, hard work and commitment of the governments of Nigeria, Lagos and Rivers states.

Atiku said he was superbly impressed with the amazing manner Nigeria had proved to the world that it had the will, commitment and human resources to deal with critical challenges of this nature.

He explained that when leaders work together for the common good of the society, there was always a ray of hope for the nation.

The former Vice President also extolled the virtues of the medical personnel during the battle to control the spread of Ebola. He said he was touched by the sacrifices of the medical personnel who sacrificed their lives to save others.

He, however, advised the entire country not to rest on its oars until the last vestiges of the Ebola virus were destroyed.

Atiku said every country must demonstrate the capacity to carry its fate in its hands, instead of relying on the outside world, adding that he was proud Nigeria demonstrated that capacity.

Survivor, Chinyere Enemuo appeals for assistance

However, a survivor of the EVD, Chinyere Enemuo, a sister to late Dr. Ike Enemuo, one of the medical doctors who lost his life to the virus, has raised alarm that the EVD frustrated her wedding plans and virtually destroyed everything in their family.

She, therefore, appealed to the Federal Government to assist her family to overcome the negative effect of the EVD on the family and also support her restart her wedding plans which was disrupted and disorganized due to her contact with the EVD.

How it all started

The Ebola virus entered Lagos July 20, 2014 via an infected Liberian who died five days later. At the airport, he was visibly very ill, lying on the floor while awaiting the flight.

He was said to have vomited during the flight and again in the private car that took him to a private hospital in Lagos. The ECOWAS protocol officer who escorted him later died of Ebola.

At the First Consultant Medical Centre, he told staff that he had malaria and denied any contact with an Ebola patient. It was learnt later that his sister was a confirmed case who had died from the disease in Liberia.

The traveller visited his sister while in hospital and attended her burial ceremony.

As malaria is not transmitted from person to person, no staff at the hospital took protective precautions. Over the coming days, nine doctors and nurses became infected and four of them died.

The virus entered the country’s oil hub, Port Harcourt, on August 1, when a close contact of the index case flew there, seeking care from a private physician.

That doctor developed symptoms on August 10 and died of Ebola on August 23. Laboratory tests confirmed the city’s first case on August 27.

An investigation undertaken by a team of epidemiologists from the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the Nigeria Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme and the State Ministry of Health, assisted by WHO, revealed an alarming number of high-risk and very high-risk exposures for hundreds of people.

 

Your comment

 

(E-mail)

 

 

 

News Archive