Nigeria Is Containing The Ebola Outbreak
GUEST POST WRITTEN BY
Mr. Austen-Peters is Chairman of Dorman Long Engineering, based in Lagos, Nigeria.
Fortunately, Nigeria does not have an Ebola problem. Contrary to the hysterical reporting of the disease, and unlike its neighbors, the Nigerian government has successfully identified and contained the infection in its early stages. The Ebola outbreak is concentrated in three West African countries – Guinea (510 cases and 377 deaths); Sierra Leone (670 cases and 355 deaths); and Liberia (670 cases and 355 deaths); and it is important to note that Nigeria does not share a border with any of the most affected West African countries. In fact, there are four other countries between Nigeria and the Ebola hotspots.
Unlike these hotspots, Nigeria has had only 13 cases, out of which 5 deaths, and 4 full recoveries have been reported. It is pertinent to stress that all the cases occurred in only one of Nigeria’s 36 States, and are linked to the same index case – a Liberian, who arrived at Lagos airport on July 20. He did not enter the Lagos city center, but was taken straight to the hospital and quarantined. Everyone with whom he came into contact, most of which were brave Nigerian health care workers, were immediately screened. Those infected were identified and quarantined.
Despite having only 13 confirmed cases, Nigeria was among the first countries to declare a National Emergency, which has contained the infection and completely prevented its further spread. The response was immediate and comprehensive, and Nigeria continues to screen travelers at all points of entry into the country.
Even with these few cases reported, the response has been decisive. Nigeria established quarantine centers, banned interstate burial transportations, set up a hotline for rapid response and continues to identify and screen immediately any case of Ebola-like symptoms in every health care facility in the nation. There is effective management of Ebola which can lead to full recovery, which Nigeria has successfully adopted in treating those infected, out of which 4 people are now fully recovered from this illness.
Every state government in the country has instituted an emergency screening and response mechanism, despite having no cases reported within their jurisdiction.
The effort to contain Ebola, has truly been a national movement. The levels of communication and awareness among the Nigerian people are at unprecedented levels. The concerted national effort to raise awareness across the country in urban and rural areas alike has been successful in changing social habits and containing any potential spread of the infection. Disease prevention awareness among Nigerians is almost at 100% and protocols to improve sanitation and prevent infection have been implemented in hotels, schools, transportation systems and offices throughout the country. It has been over 30 days since the index case arrived in Nigeria from Liberia and there have been no further cases of the disease. This time period exceeds the Ebola incubation period of 8 to 21 days, which means that the country has successfully contained this disease and prevented further outbreak.
On the economic impact, Olusegun Aganga, the Nigerian Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment, states “We are confident the impact on our economy will be minimal. The Nigerian economy was just ranked the number one national economy on the African continent, and although our economy is integrated with our West African neighbors, we are sufficiently diversified and large enough to withstand the economic challenges of Ebola in the sub region”. The resilience and size of the Nigerian economy is indeed key during this period. Essentially, the Nigerian economy drives West Africa, representing over 75% of the West African economy. Thus any restricted or controlled border movements in the region will have minimal impact on its economy.
Mr Aganga adds, that recent events also contain tales of ordinary people doing big things, “For us in Nigeria, this experience has given us heroes, and icons that have brought out the best in all of us. Like the case of the female medical doctor, who tried to save the Liberian individual -the index case- when he got into our country. When it became clear to her what she was dealing with, and sadly that she herself may now be exposed – she did not try to disappear from the scene, or run to hide. But rather, reached out to local authorities, and asked for full quarantine of the patient, and herself, to stop the spread.
Because of her actions, and similar selfless actions by many others in the early days, Nigeria was able to act fast and decisively to contain the spread. It is sad to know the doctor passed on a few days ago. But her sacrifice, and the sacrifice of others like her in Nigeria have helped to completely prevent what could have been large outbreak. “
This indeed is a human story, at the end of the day – and in situations like these, heroes emerge.
Without minimizing the gravity of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, there is no Ebola problem in Nigeria. The economy is resilient, the citizens are mobilized, and it is therefore critical that people, investors and the world do not panic over the situation. The public awareness is high and the government has invested in preventing this dreaded epidemic from spreading.
Nigeria is rising, due in no small part to a government that stands ready, willing and able to act swiftly and decisively in the face of international crises. Nigeria is rising because the people show courage and stand together, especially when you need them to. This is such a time, when the very best in this nation has indeed been revealed.