To underscore the importance of Africa ridding the continent of the Ebola Virus Disease and in the spirit of Africa helping Africans in the Ebola recovery and reconstruction, President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday at the International Conference on Africa’s Fight Against Ebola, in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, announced a donation of $1 million to the cause.
This is in addition to earlier contributions by Nigeria to stem the disease in the region.
President Buhari, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Health, Linus Awute, used the forum to share Nigeria’s experience in 2014 in rapidly containing the deadly virus.
He however pointed out: “Nigeria is not celebrating the end of Ebola in Nigeria until this disease is totally eliminated from the West African region…. This is because the Ebola in one country remains also a threat to another.”
Therefore, he posited that meeting the challenge is “crucial to us right now and so we remain committed to support all efforts of the African Union in this fight”.
Buhari affirmed that along this line, Nigeria is in full support of the establishment of the African Centre for Disease Control, working with the regional Centre for Disease control, which he said will significantly enhance health targets to build the International Health Regulations capacities.
The ECOWAS region, he observed, was the first to take this initiative of establishing a regional Centre for Disease Control in which the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control was designed as the regional centre in recognition of its role in curtailing the spread of the Ebola Virus Disease in Nigeria and the Region.
President Buhari disclosed that Nigeria is supporting research efforts in developing therapies and vaccines against the disease, explanting that these efforts are leading to the development of promising Ebola therapies through various government and private sector partnerships.
Additionally, he recalled that Nigeria welcomed the AU Peace and Security Council’s decision taken at its 450th meeting on August 19, 2014 to support the Ebola affected countries in West Africa through the Africa Union Support to Ebola Outbreak in West Africa by deploying volunteers.
He remarked that Nigeria was among the first countries to respond by deploying 198 personnel who served in the ASEOWA Mission, which contributed to the progress made in the affected counties by reducing Ebola cases from about 400 per week in 2014 to less than 30 in 2015.
Awute observed that the success may have informed governments and partners to embark on disengaging or reducing their support in human and material resources, even though the mission of the ASEOWA to stop Ebola transmission in the affected member states, prevent international spread and rebuild health systems has not yet been fully achieved.
He pointed out that the recent flare-ups and upsurge of cases in Sierra Leone and Guinea and the reappearance of cases in Liberia, after being certified Ebola free by the World Health Organization, confirms that Africa is dealing with a regional and international health security emergencies of larger proportion.
He therefore called on the African Union Commission to reconsider the immediate redeployment of volunteers to the affected countries “until the job is done”.
The colourful opening ceremony of the Conference witnessed performances by local artists and remarks by the host, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasongo, President of Equatorial Guinea and President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, who is the Chairman of the African Union amongst others.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority says it has no plan to ban Liberian airlines from coming into Nigeria, following a fresh outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease in Liberia.
The NCAA’s General Manager (Public Affairs), Fan Ndubuoke, said this on Friday while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos.
NAN reports that a fresh case of Ebola was detected in Liberia, nearly two months after the West African country was declared free of the virus by the World Health Organisation.
The Liberian authorities are monitoring at least 100 people thought to have been in contact with a 17-year-old boy, Abraham Memaigar, who died on June 28 in Margibi County, Liberia.
A NAN correspondent, who visited the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, on Friday saw both inbound and outbound passengers being screened for the virus by Port Health Officials.
Ndubuoke said Ebola Prevention and Control was a collaborative effort by the NCAA, the Nigerian Immigration Service, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Health and Port Health Services.
According to him, rather than banning the airlines, the various agencies have intensified necessary preventive measures at all the international airports in the country.
He said: “I am not aware of any move to ban any Liberian airline from coming into the country.
“Last year, we were the ones that banned AskAir when we knew that the airline brought in Mr. Patrick Sawyer.
“We stopped the airline from operating into our country.”
Ndubuoke said adequate facilities were in place at the Port Health Office, where inbound and outbound passengers were adequately screened.
He assured the public and intending passengers that all government agencies were on their guard not to allow any passenger who refused to be screened into the country.
He said: “We are on the watch now.
“We are on our guard and we are not going to let anybody come into the country without going through proper screening.
“On daily basis, we take people we suspect into a quarantined room but we don’t make noise about it.
“We can’t afford to let the Sawyer incident happen again.”
Ndubuoke added that the authority would not hesitate to sanction any airline that violated the mandatory screening at its various checkpoints.
“Airlines on their own are also doing the same thing.
“It is mandatory that they screen their passengers at their check points.”
On his part, Yakubu Dati, General Manager (Corporate Affairs) of FAAN, said the screening points at all international airports in the country were being maintained to ensure safety of passengers.
Dati said FAAN was collaborating with other agencies to prevent the outbreak of communicable diseases such as Ebola at the various entry points.
Two passengers, who spoke to NAN, Femi Adeola and Kazeem Kadiri, expressed satisfaction with the screening exercise, calling for its sustenance in the light of the fresh outbreak of Ebola in Liberia.
NAN also reports that the Federal Ministry of Health recently produced a document on the National Aviation Public Emergency Preparedness Plan.
The document, drawn mainly from the template provided by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, would serve as a guiding material for suspected cases of communicable diseases within the Nigerian airspace.
The National Orientation Agency has called on Nigerians travelling for leisure during this summer and those undertaking religious obligations to exercise caution especially with the outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and the resurgence of Ebola in some parts of Africa.
The Director General of the Agency, Mike Omeri, said the NOA in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the National Hajj Commission have commenced sensitization for all intending travellers on the details of transmission and symptoms of the disease.
Omeri reiterated that no Nigerian has been confirmed with the disease in the country, saying the purpose of the sensitization is to ensure adequate awareness on the measures citizens need to take to avoid MERS and Ebola.
The DG warned that Nigerians travelling to China, South Korea and Saudi Arabia should exercise utmost caution as some people in those countries have been diagnosed with the disease in the last two months.
He urged Nigerians travelling to Saudi Arabia to heed health warnings by the government reminding them that already Saudi authorities have warned against the consumption of camel meat or milk in the country.
Omeri said he has directed all state and local government offices of the Agency to include the travel alert as part of its messaging to communities since many of these intending travellers will emanate from our local communities.
The Lagos State Government on Thursday advised the public to maintain adequate personal and environmental hygiene to prevent a relapse of the Ebola Virus Disease.
Dr. Modele Osunkiyesi, the Permanent Secretary of the state’s Ministry of Health, gave the advice in a statement in Lagos.
Osunkiyesi said this became imperative in view of reported cases of the resurgence of EVD in some neighbouring West African countries like Liberia and Sierra Leone.
She said the state government, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health and other stakeholders, was maintaining relevant surveillance through the Port Health Services and community surveillance activities in all local government areas.
She said the state government had started outlining strategies to prevent the re-entry of the disease after being certified free of Ebola on October 20, 2014 by the World Health Organisation.
According to her, prevention of Ebola is a shared responsibility by all citizens.
Osunkiyesi said in the statement: “Although, there has not been any reported case of EVD in the state or the country, there is need for residents to take responsibility for their health.
“Observe the highest possible standards of personal and environmental hygiene through regular washing of hands with soap and running water.
“Avoiding close contact with people who are sick, ensuring that objects used by the sick are decontaminated and properly disposed and avoid touching or washing of dead bodies if not trained to do so.”
Osunkiyesi said EVD could be spread through close contact with the blood, body fluids, organs and tissues of infected animals.
She said EVD could also spread through direct contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected persons as well as handling sick or dead infected animals like monkeys and bats.
The statement added: “Early symptoms of EVD include fever, headache, chills, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, sore throat, backache and arthritis, while later symptoms include bleeding from the eyes, ears, nose, mouth and rectum.
“Also, swelling of the eyes, genitals and rashes all over the body that often contains blood. It could progress to coma, shock and death.”
Osunkiyesi said there was no specific treatment for EVD, but infected persons would be admitted into the hospital for specialised care and treated in isolation.
She said: “There is need to be vigilant and ensure adequate hygiene. Lagosians are advised to remain calm as the government remains committed to protecting your health.
“Health workers are also enjoined to keep observing the universal safety precautions when dealing with patients.”