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WHO and Nigeria’s Ebola-free status

With the declaration of Nigeria as free of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) penultimate Monday by the World Health Organization (WHO), the coast in now clear for the nation to get on with her life without the dread of a disease that has no certain cure and whose fatality rate is up to 90 per cent of afflicted victims.
This declaration came after determined doctors and thousands of officials and volunteers helped end the outbreak in Nigeria of the EVD that is still ravaging other parts of West Africa and threatening the United States, Spain and other countries of the world.
Caught unawares when a Liberian-American diplomat, Mr. Patrick Sawyer, arrived with the disease from Liberia on July 20, authorities were alerted by Doctor Ameyo Adadevoh, who kept him in her hospital despite protests from him and his government. For her courageous stance in keeping Mr. Sawyer and caring for him, Dr Adadevoh eventually succumbed to the disease and later died of it.
The Nigerian authorities thereafter set about trying to contain the disease in Lagos, an overcrowded city of about 21 million people, where it could easily have turned a doomsday scenario if about 300 people who had been in direct or indirect contact with Mr. Sawyer had not been traced, isolated and treated.
“This is a spectacular success story,” Rui Gama Vaz, from the World Health Organization (WHO), told a news conference in the country’s capital, Abuja, where officials broke into applause when he announced that Nigeria had shaken off the disease. What this shows is that Ebola can be contained, but all concerned must be clear that what has been won is only the battle, the war will only end when West Africa is also declared free of Ebola.
From published data, this year’s outbreak of the highly infectious hemorrhagic fever thought to have originated in forest bats is the worst on record having killed an estimated 4,546 people across the three most-affected countries, Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. More worrisome is that travelers from the region have infected two people in Texas, USA and one in Madrid, Spain.
Despite the fact that the EVD has been successfully contained in Nigeria, there is still the danger that generally poor sanitary and hygiene conditions, the dilapidated infrastructure in the country and the often porous borders may yet conspire, hopefully not, to bring back the dreaded disease.
At the core of ensuring that EVD is permanently and completely  banished from Nigeria’s shores are the issues of personal and institutional hygiene and proper professional care for the infected.
A lot more needs to be done to sensitize the populace concerning the EVD the way the war against HIV/AIDS was largely, comprehensively, prosecuted. This is more so as the EVD is deadlier with a higher mortality rate.
It is providential that the World Hand Washing Day was celebrated on October 15, around the time when Nigeria was being given a clean bill of health concerning Ebola by the WHO. This year’s Hand Washing Day brought the issue of personal hygiene to the fore.
Hand-washing with soap at regular intervals keeps the risk of contracting EVD to the minimum.
Though hand-washing is a cheap way of keeping EVD at bay, unfortunately most of our citizens who are generally illiterate and poor may not readily be able to afford this ‘luxury’.
To ensure that more Nigerians avail themselves of this culture, schools, places of worship and other public places must mandatorily be made to provide water, soap and other sanitizing agents for use by all who come to those places. That way, the war will be totally won and not just the battle of containment of the virus.
Albeit, governments at state and federal levels, the heroic medical personnel and volunteers who put their lives in danger and worked in concert to contain this scourge that could have devastated the nation deserve our praise and commendation.
EVD) or Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever (EHF) is a disease of humans and other primates caused by an ebola virus. Symptoms start two days to three weeks after contracting the virus, with a fever, sore throat, muscle pain and headaches. Typically, vomiting, diarrhea and rashes follow, along with decreased functioning of the liver and kidneys. Around this time, affected people may begin to bleed both within the body and externally.
The virus may be acquired upon contact with blood or bodily fluids of an infected person or animal. Male survivors may be able to transmit the disease via semen for nearly two months. To make correct diagnosis, typically other diseases with similar symptoms such as malaria, cholera and other viral hemorrhagic fevers are first excluded.
Prevention includes decreasing the spread of the disease from infected animals to humans. This may be done by checking such animals for infection and killing and properly disposing of their bodies if the disease is discovered. Properly cooking meat and wearing protective clothing when handling meat may also be helpful, as are wearing protective clothing and washing hands when around a person with the disease. Samples of bodily fluids and tissues from people with the disease should be handled with special caution.
EVD was first identified in Sudan (now South Sudan) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
We congratulate the governments and people of Nigeria again on the WHO clean bill of health on EVD and caution that every one must continue to be at high alert to ensure that this monstrous virus does not show its ugly face, ever again, in Nigeria.
We also support that the country should join the international effort to eradicate it from the West African countries where it is presently wreaking havoc, as it is only when it is totally eliminated from the world that anyone, anywhere, can sleep with both eyes closed.

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