News / Africa

Nigerians Threaten to Burn Ebola Units

Poster providing information on the Ebola virus on the door of the Head of Department of Hospital Services, Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja, Aug. 11, 2014.
Poster providing information on the Ebola virus on the door of the Head of Department of Hospital Services, Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja, Aug. 11, 2014.
Heather Murdock

As fears of Ebola spread across West Africa, some Nigerians are rejecting the idea of building Ebola isolation units in their neighborhoods.

In parts of Nigeria prone to communal violence, locals took to the streets this week, saying they would sooner burn Ebola centers down than allow them to operate.

In many parts of Nigeria, residents say they are more afraid of Ebola than of Boko Haram, the militant group that has killed thousands of people this year alone.

In the northern city of Kaduna Wednesday, where Boko Haram has struck many times, hundreds of people protested plans to convert sections of a local clinic into an Ebola treatment center.

Many carried signs that said: "No Ebola in our hospital."

“They are kicking against it that it should not be situated here.  Not that government should not do what it is supposed to do.  But situating it here is what they are against," said Danjuma Musa, a religious leader in Down Quarters, where the hospital is located.

FILE - Nigeria's Minister of Health Onyebuchi Chukwu speaks at the media briefing on updates about the Ebola outbreak in Nigeria at his office in Abuja, Aug. 14, 2014.FILE - Nigeria's Minister of Health Onyebuchi Chukwu speaks at the media briefing on updates about the Ebola outbreak in Nigeria at his office in Abuja, Aug. 14, 2014.
x
FILE - Nigeria's Minister of Health Onyebuchi Chukwu speaks at the media briefing on updates about the Ebola outbreak in Nigeria at his office in Abuja, Aug. 14, 2014.
FILE - Nigeria's Minister of Health Onyebuchi Chukwu speaks at the media briefing on updates about the Ebola outbreak in Nigeria at his office in Abuja, Aug. 14, 2014.

On Thursday, Nigerian Minister of Health Onyebuchi Chukwu said what the government should and must do is prepare for the possibility of a widespread outbreak regardless of objections he calls “irrational fear.”
 
Nigeria has recorded 15 cases of Ebola and six deaths since the disease came to Nigeria in July.  The World Health Organization said Thursday more than 1,500 people have died since the West Africa outbreak began early this year, nearly all in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.  

Ebola cases and deaths in West Africa, as of Aug. 28, 2014 updateEbola cases and deaths in West Africa, as of Aug. 28, 2014 update
x
Ebola cases and deaths in West Africa, as of Aug. 28, 2014 update
Ebola cases and deaths in West Africa, as of Aug. 28, 2014 update

The outbreak is also growing faster, it said, with 40 percent of new cases recorded in the past 21 days.
 
The health minister says Kaduna residents and other communities that have objected to Ebola centers will be in no danger because patients will not mingle with anyone outside the hospital.
 
“Even family members are not even permitted. You’re a man? Your wife is not even permitted. You’re a woman? Your husband, your children, they are not even permitted. So I don’t know how people now think they will get Ebola because we are treating. In any case, people might as well ask all hospitals be removed from their cities,” said Chukwu.

But protesters say they are not only afraid of the disease spreading.

People stand on the shoreline at West Point, Monrovia, Liberia, Aug. 27, 2014.People stand on the shoreline at West Point, Monrovia, Liberia, Aug. 27, 2014.
x
People stand on the shoreline at West Point, Monrovia, Liberia, Aug. 27, 2014.
People stand on the shoreline at West Point, Monrovia, Liberia, Aug. 27, 2014.

Nigerians are watching harrowing scenes from the Liberian capital, Monrovia, where a forced quarantine in a massive city slum has led to deadly clashes between residents and soldiers.

In Kaduna, where thousands of people have died in clashes in the past two decades, political rallies and protests are banned.  Some residents that attended the protest Wednesday say they fear an Ebola center could spark public outrage and more violence. 

“When you look at the number of people that came out yesterday protesting, at least that can trigger something else in the state. But thank God, we did things peacefully,” said Ibrahim Shehu, who chairs the clinic’s board.
 
Business concerns

Other residents say Nigerians are so afraid of Ebola in general, that even if the isolation unit has no patients, its presence will keep people out of the neighborhood, killing their businesses.

“When there is something dangerous nobody will patronize you. People will run away from you,” said Abdullahi Mohammed Barnawa, who sells wood at a market near the clinic.

Like some other Kaduna residents, Barnawa mistakenly believes Ebola is airborne, when in reality it spreads through contact with bodily fluids, making it much harder to catch.

Officials say they are working dispel rumors like this with TV ads, radio jingles and educational flyers, warning that false information can sometimes be as deadly as Ebola.

Ibrahima Yakubu contributed to this report from Kaduna.

You May Like

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, No voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve and do not want to take a risk by endorsing independence More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Spacei
X
September 17, 2014 4:20 AM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid