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Lagos Alerts Residents To Ebola

Angela Onwuzoo Following a resurgence of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Liberia, the Lagos State Government yesterday , urged all residents of the state to maintain good personal and environmental hygiene practices at all times as part of precautionary measures to prevent the re-entry of the disease into the state and the country at large.

This is even as the Federal Government on Wednesday urged the ministries of health and health facilities across the country to report any suspected case of the EVD to the Federal Ministry of Health. Liberia, which was certified EVD free by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on May 9, 2015 witnessed a resurgence of the disease after a 17-yearold boy recently died of the virus. Nigeria was formally declared free of the EVD by the WHO on October 20, 2014 after 42 days without any new case of the virus.

Alerting residents of the state to the need to take precautionary measures to avoid the resurgence of the virus, Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Dr. Modele Osunkiyesi, said the state government, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health and other stakeholders are maintaining relevant surveillance through Port Health Services and community surveillance activities in all local government areas. She said the state government had put strategies in place to prevent re-entry of the disease in the state after being certified free of Ebola on the 20th of October 2014 by the World Health Organization.

Osunkiyesi said: “Lagosians are advised to remain calm as your government remains committed to protecting your health. Health workers are also enjoined to keep observing the universal safety precautions when dealing with patients.

For more information or clarification about the disease; please call 08023169485 or 08052817243.” She noted that the prevention of Ebola remains a shared responsibility by all citizens, though there has not been any reported case of EVD in the state or the country, stressing the need for residents to continually be on the alert.

She further urged residents to observe best standard of personal and environmental hygiene practices through regular washing of hands with soap and running water; avoiding close contact with people who are sick; ensuring that objects used by the sick are decontaminated and properly disposed of and avoid touching or washing of dead bodies if not trained to do so.

Osunkiyesi explained that EVD can be spread through close contact with the blood, body fluids, organs and tissues of infected animals; direct contact with the blood, body fluids, and tissues of infected persons; and handling sick or dead infected animals like monkeys and bats.

“Early symptoms of EVD include fever, headache, chills, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, sore throat, backache, and arthritis while later symptoms include bleeding from the eyes, ears and nose, bleeding from the mouth and rectum, eye swelling, swelling of the genitals and rashes all over the body that often contains blood. It could progress to coma, shock and death”, she said.

According to her, there is no specific treatment for EVD, pointing out that infected persons will need to be admitted
into the hospital for specialized care. She also added that those at the highest risk of the EVD included health-workers, families and friends of an infected person in the course of feeding, holding and caring for them.

The Ebola virus was introduced into Nigeria on 20 July 2014 when an infected Liberian man, Patrick Sawyer, who arrived by aeroplane into Lagos. Sawyer, who died in hospital five days later, set off a chain of transmission that infected a total of 19 people, seven of whom died. Meanwhile, Federal Government yesterday assured that it is set to develop a package of care guide that will assist in fight against non- communicable diseases.

Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Mr. Linus Awute gave the assurance in Abuja, yesterday, while inaugurating a Seventeen–man Technical Working Group (TWG) who will take steps towards tackling the NCDs in line with global monitoring framework. The Ministry had alerted of a new case of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Liberia, which means that the country which was certified EVD free by the World Health Organization (WHO) on May 9, 2015 has witnessed a resurgence of the disease. This followed report that a 17-year-old boy from a village near the Liberian capital died of Ebola.

He was said to have had no history of travelling out of Liberia and no history of coming into contact with any known Ebola case, but that the boy has since been buried even as Liberian health officials are worried that he may have transmitted the virus to many other people who came into contact with him. The resurgence of EVD in Liberia confirms that the Ebola Virus is still circulating in that country and transmission from person-to person is possible. Awute, however declared that the Ministry is now set to adapt the package of care guide to assist the country in proper management of Non – Communicable Diseases (NCD).

Mr. Awute explained that NCDs are a major contributor to the burden of disease in developed countries and are increasing rapidly in developing countries such as Nigeria. He declared that in Nigeria, about 56% of the population now live in urban centres, adding that “with the urbanization, population increases rapidly, with an accompanying shift in the disease pattern which also provokes an increase in the prevalence of NCDs.

He explained that Non–Communicable Diseases are largely due to preventable and modifiable risk factors such as high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, physical inactivity and unhealthy diet, amongst others. Unfortunately, according to Mr. Awute, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGS) set up by United Nations to combat infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB did not include NCDs such as heart diseases, sickle cell disease or diabetes.

‘’Therefore, it is no exaggeration to describe the situation as an impending disaster, a disaster for health, for society and most of all for national economy’’, he asserted. He then stressed that it was expedient to establish a Technical Working Group (TWG) made up of professionals that will represent the mind and position of the generality of Nigerian health professionals.

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