The United Nation’s World Health Organisation’s (WHO’s) protocol, the UN body will Monday officially declare Nigeria free of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
The outgoing Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, had informed newsmen two weeks ago that Nigeria would be declared Ebola-free by WHO once 42 days had passed after the last case of the virus was discharged from the hospital. Nigeria according to WHO, will be joining Senegal as the only two countries, since the current outbreak of the virus in Guinea, which have successfully contained the disease.
Other countries still combating the virus include Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the United States of America (USA) and Spain. The strain of Ebola which has claimed almost 50 lives in the DRC is different from the one that afflicted West Africa, the US and Spain.
Onyebuchi had however cautioned that though there is a WHO protocol for declaring a country Ebola-free, he termed it theoretical.
He said: “Like I said in my speech at the UN General Assembly, as long as there is a single case of Ebola in any part of the world, every country is at risk.
“So this is really theoretical and countries would still have to take the necessary measures to guard against the outbreak of the virus in their territories.”
Since the outbreak of the virus in Nigeria, the country has recorded 19 confirmed cases and seven deaths. The country has also won praise from WHO and the international community for its quick response in the containment of the virus.
Despite the strides Nigeria has made in containing Ebola in the country, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has asked the federal government to establish Community Ebola Surveillance Units, saying that this is not the time to relax in the fight, as the virus remains a global disease.
The NMA President, Dr. Kayode Obembe, made the call during a press conference in Abuja at the weekend to kick off this year’s physicians’ week in Nigeria, reported the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
He said: “Community-based Ebola Surveillance Units should be established. Ebola is no longer a local but a global disease that must be eliminated from the terrestrial habitat.”
He, however, commended government’s effort at containing the virus.
Obembe called for alertness in community-based surveillance, illnesses with the onset of fever and anyone of bleeding, diarrhoea, bleeding when urinating, once identified, should be reported to the surveillance team or the closest health centre.
The association also recommended the establishment of at least one isolation unit in each senatorial district or state of the federation.
“For proper function of these isolation units, ambulance transfer services must be provided to convey probable and suspected cases to these units for evaluation and treatment.
“Ambulance staff must be trained and equipped to reduce the risk of patients-staff cross-infection while states should provide information on help lines and sources of information on the disease,” the NMA president said.
The NMA further recommended that communities should provide cremation sites while the states provide resources and instructions for the safe disposal of bodies and other bio-hazardous materials.