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.
     

    Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
    x
    Click to enlarge
    Click to enlarge

    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.
    x
    (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.

     

     

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora