Nigeria takes steps to prevent Ebola outbreak

Cyril Okonkwo, Abuja

Nigeria’s Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has directed that activities be stepped up at border points for the prevention of an outbreak of the Ebola disease in Nigeria.

These measures follow reports of an outbreak of the Ebola disease in the northern part of the Congo Democratic Republic, triggering health alarms in West African countries affected by the disease in 2014.

Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, said the Acting President gave the directive at Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council meeting at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Adewole, who briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the meeting, said surveillance activities are ongoing at all points through which people enter Nigeria.

Screening camera

The Health Minister confirmed that a camera has been installed at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport to screen anyone coming into Nigeria.

“Anyone coming into Nigeria or travelling out will recognize the fact that you are continuously screened by a camera that faces you and screens you,” Adewole said, explaining that device gives out an alert about anyone that has fever.

Professor Adewole said the Ministry of Health has constituted an Ebola Preparedness Working Group chaired by Dr Joshua Obasanya, who led the Nigerian contingent to Liberia for the Ebola Control Programme during the last outbreak of the disease.

He said the ministry has “improved and revamped the level of activities at some of our central laboratories so that they have reagents to be able to make diagnoses on the spot.”

Adewole said the ministry would continue to promote the culture of personal hygiene like hand-washing and give regular briefings on all ongoing activities about the disease.

Meningitis cases

On meningitis, Professor Adewole said he gave a report to the council, which indicated that the number of new cases of the disease has been dropping.

He said: “We are in Week 19 and we are happy to inform the nation that the number of new cases, on a continuous basis, has been dropping since the last five weeks.”

Adewole said two medical teams have been sent to Sokoto and Zamfara states, the two states worst hit by the outbreak of the disease, to handle the cases of those already infected.

He said the capacity of health care workers have been improved to increase their ability for diagnoses from the initial 15% to 70%.

He said preparations would also be made for the next season, since the outbreaks are seasonal

Cholera Alert

Professor Adewole said that the Ministry of Health has also alerted state governments in Nigeria about cholera outbreaks at the beginning of the rainy season.

He said the ministry was working with international partners to develop a “robust response to measles,” which occurs January, February and March so that there would be a nationwide vaccination against measles later this year.