Alkasim Abdulkadir: Ebola In A Season Of Uncertainty

Alkasim Abdulkadir: Ebola In A Season Of Uncertainty [The Trent Voices]

A member of Doctors Without Borders puts on protective gear at the isolation ward of the Donka Hospital in Conakry, where people infected with the Ebola virus are being treated. (Photo Credit: Cellou Binani/AFP/Getty Images)

Sitting in the train cabin last week in Netherlands, the Dutch man who sat across from me looked eager to start a conversation, he got a chance when I looked hurriedly across the train platform to see if it was my stop, this is Delft, where are you going he asked. I told him, ah, it’s a small station after the next stop, you can’t miss it. Then the interrogation began, so where are you from? When I said Nigeria, his eyes lit up. ‘Isn’t that where the Ebola is from he asked cautiously’ Well yes there have been a few cases of Ebola, but they have all been contained. I answered him.

I don’t know why he asked me the next question but it made me feel that he was profiling me, he asked: so how long have you been in Europe as if to time post my arrival with the disease’s onslaught in West Africa. At last after what seemed to be satisfactory answers that I was fine, he relaxed and the conversation moved on to other areas.

However, we must not relent nor let the ball down in containing this virus, we cannot afford to let the ball down at this moment, there still exist the bat and monkey eating population of Nigeria the advocacy must continue to ensure that they don’t become catalysts in the spread of the virus.

Nigeria’s Ebola spread has been traced to the acts of the Liberian-American Patrick Sawyer, the Ecowas official who landed in Lagos and became Nigeria’s case zero when he passed away on the 5th of July.

Nigeria’s proactive response has prevented a further escalation of the disease, but could Sawyer have been prevented from entering Nigeria? Yes he could have. Currently all international flights into Nigeria ask their passengers to fill a personal and symptomatic data form complete with boxes to tick of travel history, recent contact with corpses, travel history and home address and phone numbers. This should have been in place since the outbreak took a toll on our West African neighbours especially given our high mobility rate in the region. Unfortunately, once again we were caught napping.

There was palpable fear with the country fighting insurgency, the climate of partisan political friction and the striking doctors in Nigeria all pointed to veil of uncertainty as to how Nigeria was going to arrest the situation.

However, it is heart warming to say at the moment we have since covered precious grounds in ensuring that EVD is contained within our borders, Gov. Babatunde Fashola and the Lagos State Commissioner of Health’s measures in setting up an Isolation Centre and the Minister of Health’s several interventions shows what we can achieve when we have a monomaniac zeal to make things work.

So also the Minister of Water Resources Sarah Ochekpe tour of motor parks and markets in Abuja is an example of proactiveness and citizen inclusion in the fight against Ebola, churches and mosques also stepped up the campaign for better hygienic practices. In Kano, the Emir also setup a committee to help the district areas in creating mass awareness on the existence of EVD in Nigeria.

However, we must not relent nor let the ball down in containing this virus, we cannot afford to let the ball down at this moment, there still exist the bat and monkey eating population of Nigeria the advocacy must continue to ensure that they don’t become catalysts in the spread of the virus.

There is also the sad tale of the salt and water solution that has also led to the death of individuals in certain states, the advocacy must continue to preach the gospel in order to counter further mass hysteria like the one that characterized the salt bath episode.

It has become imperative for us to pay tribute and immortalize those who worked gallantly to contain this virus in Nigeria and in the process paying the supreme sacrifice. One of the most tragic fall outs of the Sawyer debacle is the death of staff of the First Consultants Medical Centre amongst whom is the experienced endocrinologist Dr. Adadevoh a holder of an MBBS from the University of Lagos, UNILAG, as well as a Diploma in Endocrinology from the University of London, her death in the fight against Ebola in Nigeria showed the remarkable courage and length she went to ensure that Sawyer was not only looked after but that he was contained even when there were pressures to have him released. That she not only gave her all but gave her life and paid the ultimate sacrifice shows her remarkable strength of character and dedication to duty. The deceased had practiced in the United Kingdom and Nigeria for more than three decades; she was a member of the Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, the British-Nigerian Association and a Fellow of the National Postgraduate Medical College. Also there is the tragic passing of the very expressive Nurse Justina Obi Ejelonu who through her Facebook page humanized the precarious lives of medics at the front line of fighting and containing Ebola.

In the end we must all ensure that this containment is sustained and that citizens remain vigilant in also holding government accountable, or else no one can be safe from the fangs of this all consuming virus. We are all vulnerable, in the end.

Alkasim Abdulkadir is currently an Editor at Citizensplatform.net, an Online News portal. He e has worked as a Producer for BBC Media Action and as a news contributor for CNN, Aljazeera, France 24 and Guardian UK. He is Contributing Editor at The Trent.

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

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