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Ebola: The disease that brought Nigeria fame

Original Post By  , http://nigerianpilot.com/

The outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, first attracted a negative image to Nigeria in the out-gone year. But this was short-lived as the country soon became a global reference point in the handling of the killer disease.

The first case of Ebola infection was confirmed on July 22, when the former Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, told journalists in Abuja that he was alerted on a suspected case of Ebola in Lagos involving a 40-year-old male, Patrick Sawyer, who travelled from Monrovia, Liberia, to Nigeria on Asky Airline via Lome to Lagos.
The minister said that the two port health workers who had contact with him were quickly isolated and treated as they tested Ebola negative but one of the newer health workers who participated in treating the patience was confirmed positive.
The index case (Sawyer) flew from Liberia to Nigeria’s former capital, Lagos, on July 20.
When the first Ebola case was confirmed in July, health officials immediately received technical and equipment from the World Health Organisation, WHO, and other partners to help find cases and track potential chains of transmission of the virus.
WHO, United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, Médecins Sans Frontières, MSF, or Doctors without Borders, UNICEF and other partners supported the federal government with expertise for outbreak investigation, risk assessment, contact tracing and clinical care.  Apart from the medical experts, there were 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. It was gathered that the Ebola outbreak created an avenue for Nigeria to have and boast of Ebola Emergency Operations Centre at the premises of the Central Public health laboratory, Yaba, Lagos.
Following this outbreak, the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan immediately declared a national emergency, set up an inter-ministerial committee and convened a meeting of all governors and commissioners of health. He also approved the sum of N1.9bn for full implementation of the Ebola control measures. This action immediately gave a sense of urgency to the outbreak and the nation was thus fully mobilised.
Sadly, during the last week of August 2014, the outbreak spilled over from Lagos to Port Harcourt, Rivers State, and the National Ebola Operation Centre with the Rivers State Ministry of Health set up a similar management and response structure with all components of the EVD public health intervention in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Interestingly, with the above efforts put in place Nigeria overcame the disease. As at September 27, the Federal Ministry of Health had registered 20 cases (including the index case) and eight deaths. The last confirmed cases were discharged on September 9, 2014. Since then, there has been no new case detected, meaning that Nigeria had successfully interrupted the transmission of EVD.
For WHO to declare an Ebola outbreak over, a country must pass through 42 days, with active surveillance demonstrably in place, supported by good diagnostic capacity, and with no new cases detected. Active surveillance is essential to detect chains of transmission that might otherwise remain hidden.
However, the strategies to fight Ebola outbreak had worked. The WHO described it as a spectacular world-class epidemiological detective work that should be emulated by others; Nigeria is no longer listed among countries infected by this deadly virus any longer, at least for now. No country shall stigmatise any Nigerian as someone coming to contaminate their people; and it also shows that national public system is working show-casing how the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control steered these response activities.
But the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Khaliru Alhassan, and other health experts hinted that the achievement recorded by Nigeria’s public health must not be taken for granted and everyone must not go to sleep and start resting on their oars. It should serve as a warning that this current outbreak of EVD still presents a measured threat to Nigeria and rest of the world until it is contained and eliminated from all countries, particularly from the West African sub region. He said without this, the possibility of a re-importation of EVD into Nigeria remains high.