Wednesday, 21 October 2015

FGN: Ebola Trouble Not Over Yet

The Federal Government said on Tuesday that the country was still under Ebola alert and surveillance.

The government’s fresh warning is coming one year after the World Health Organisation certified Nigeria free of the Ebola Virus Disease.

The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Mr. Linus Awute, said this at a press briefing on Tuesday evening in Abuja.

The press conference wsa held to commemorate the WHO certification one year ago.

According to Awute, Nigeria cannot rest until when “transmission of the disease in human population reaches zero in West Africa.”

He said, “In the past one year, Nigeria has not lowered her guard. We remain vigilant through enhanced surveillance, not only for Ebola but also for all diseases that constitute public health emergencies.

“This was demonstrated by the numerous responses and investigations of the Ebola scare, particularly the recent one at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital. Within the same year, Nigeria availed her resources to the ongoing response to EVD outbreak in West Africa.”

While warning citizens, Awute stressed that the disease could still be transmitted sexually by survivors.

He said, “Since Nigeria was declared Ebola free, the global Ebola control environment has changed based on new evidences around care for Ebola in pregnancy, survivors related symptoms, discovery of Ebola vaccine, relapse of the disease by survivors carrying the virus in their semen and vaginal secretions.

“These recent developments have changed our understanding of the clinical and epidemiological characteristics of this disease. This poses a stronger challenge to us and our neighbours who have these survivors in their thousands and also signifies that the fight is far from being over. Volunteers shall serve as our foot soldiers, which deserve national recognition for meritorious service to the nation.”

He praised the sacrifice of late Dr. Stella Adadevoh and the medical team at the First Consultant Hospital, Lagos, where the Liberian-American, Patrick Sawyer, died and infected some of the health workers.

The permanent secretary also commended the contributions of President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote; Founder, Tony Elumelu Foundation, Tony Elumelu; the US government, WHO, UNICEF, Japan, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, National Primary Healthcare Development Agency and other international organisations.

The Project Director, National Centre for Disease Control, Prof. Abdulrahman Nasidi, pledged that survival clinic would be established to carry out surveillance functions.

He said that the clinic would act as a resource centre to equip health officials with the technical expertise to address challenges relating to the Ebola virus.

The PUNCH reports that Nigeria has not recorded any case after it was declared free of Ebola in October last year by the WHO, although there have been some levels of resurgence of EVD in Guinea, Sierra-Leone and a relapse case in the United Kingdom.

There were 19 confirmed cases in Nigeria, with eight deaths and 11 survivors.

Awute said that the success recorded in the fight against Ebola “has become a pivot for how our beautiful country should tackle problems proactively and in times of emergencies.”

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