News / Africa

Nigeria Faces Possible Ebola Outbreak Amid National Doctors’ Strike

Heather Murdock

In the midst of a national doctors' strike, Nigerian authorities are now working to prevent an outbreak of Ebola, after the country’s first patient died last week. The strike leaves Nigeria's hospitals unprepared to treat or contain the disease if it begins to spread.
 
Doctors said Nigerian hospitals were in a state of near collapse, and they would strike until the government supplied them with enough resources to adequately treat their patients.
 

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Analysts said in terms of hospital needs, the doctors were right.  

“Some of the equipment they use are obsolete.  Researches are not implemented and actually they are not proactive,”  said Okeoghene Eboibi, who heads the engineering department at Delta State Polytechnic. He said the state of the hospitals was all the more frightening since the threat of an Ebola outbreak emerged in Nigeria last week.

Growing concerns

Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian official, flew into the country from Liberia early last week. His plane stopped in Ghana and Togo before he arrived in Nigeria, where he was quarantined immediately. A few days later, he died of Ebola in Lagos, a crowded mega-city of 21 million people.
 
Ebola, one of the world’s deadliest diseases, has killed nearly 700 people in West Africa since an outbreak began early this year. Eboibi said if it spread to Nigeria -- Africa's most populous country with many crowded cities -- the result would be terrifying.

“I’m worried for big cities in Nigeria like Lagos, Abuja, Kano, because government may not be able to control the outbreak if it’s not prevented,” he said.
 
Officials said they were trying to prevent an epidemic by locating all the people who came into contact with Sawyer. So far, they have found 59 people that had contact with him, and none have yet tested positive for Ebola.  

(L-R) Lateef Aderemi Ibirogba, Lagos' State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, sits with Dr. Jide Idris, the Commissioner for Health, during a news conference on the death of an Ebola victim in Lagos, July 25, 2014.(L-R) Lateef Aderemi Ibirogba, Lagos' State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, sits with Dr. Jide Idris, the Commissioner for Health, during a news conference on the death of an Ebola victim in Lagos, July 25, 2014.
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(L-R) Lateef Aderemi Ibirogba, Lagos' State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, sits with Dr. Jide Idris, the Commissioner for Health, during a news conference on the death of an Ebola victim in Lagos, July 25, 2014.
(L-R) Lateef Aderemi Ibirogba, Lagos' State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, sits with Dr. Jide Idris, the Commissioner for Health, during a news conference on the death of an Ebola victim in Lagos, July 25, 2014.

But Lagos State Heath Commissioner Jide Idris said many more could be out there.

“In collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Aviation I've also put into motion mechanisms to track down all contacts at high risk,” said Idris.

Making preparations

He said the government was also trying to prepare for an outbreak, by screening travelers when they entered the country, by spreading information about the disease to the public, and by building an isolation unit in Lagos.

Ebola Factbox

Outbreaks of Ebola are life-threatening and in up to 90% of cases, people die.

  • In most instances, outbreaks have occurred in remote villages of Central andWest Africa, close to tropical rainforests
  • The virus is transmitted to humans from wild animals and spreads human-to-human through exposure to organs, blood and other bodily fluids
  • Presently no specific treatment or vaccine is available for people, nor for animals

Content sourced from World Health Organization

 

But these tasks are complicated by the refusal of doctors to end their strike, which began nearly a month ago.

Atonyebe Oyede, a Nigerian civil servant, said the government was doing everything it can, but preventing the spread of the disease amid the chaos of Nigeria’s health care system would require an act of God.
 
“You see that this Ebola outbreak, other African countries we have experienced it, but here in Nigeria we live by faith,” said Oyede.
 
The Nigerian Medical Association says if there is an outbreak, the union has “structures in place to respond to emergencies.”  But with doctors themselves getting the disease in other countries, many Nigerians also wonder, if there is an outbreak, if an end to the strike would be much help.

Hilary Uguru contributed to this report from the Niger Delta.

 

 

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Comments
     
by: larry moss from: akwa ibom
August 01, 2014 1:44 AM
the increase rates of uncurable diseases such as these is no surprise 2 bible student, the bible vividly pointed out dat in d last days critical tyms hard to deal with will b here, were we expecting something less? instead of resting our fuul hope in human government 4 a complete solution 2 our predicament is time we turn our attention n hope 2 d creator n bliv dat only his kingdom wil bring a complete halt 2 our predicament


by: Mercy from: Ebonyi
July 31, 2014 3:48 PM
As d bible says d@ our bdy is d temple of d holyspirit , i pray d@ dis deadly diseases shall nt locate us in Jesus name amen n d bible also says d@ we can live 120yrs n above, my prayer is d@ bcos our tym has nt reach no sickness n diseases shall penetrate or kill us in Jesus mighty name i pray amen


by: Anonymous
July 31, 2014 5:53 AM
I know for sure that the God who delivered the children of Isreal from the hands of the Egyptian will surely prevent all Nigerians from this deadly virus IN JESUS NAME(AMEN)


by: Ekufu Roseline from: onitsha, Anambra
July 31, 2014 4:12 AM
why did Patrick Sawyer come to Nigeria when he kn he had contracted d disease?


by: ubuane progress from: ughell,delta state
July 30, 2014 3:58 PM
i believe with God the prevention of the outbreak of ebola is possible. Nigerians should dedicate just one day to pray against this disease outbreak and i know God will answer his people

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