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

    Saudi Arabia’s New Female Politicians in the Other Room 

    Many in Saudi Arabia say elected representatives should share unsegregated spaces; according to a recent survey, more than half the Saudi population, both men and women, prefer to work in a segregated place

    Russia Not ‘Apologetic’ for Syria Airstrikes

    With Moscow criticized for targeting armed opponents of President Assad, Russia’s UN envoy says his country ‘acting in a very transparent manner’

    Pakistan Warns of Islamic State's Growing Reach

    Aftab Sultan, General Director General of Intelligence Bureau (IB), briefed Senate Committee in closed hearing, saying that IS-linked groups have been expanding in Pakistan

    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.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.