News / Africa

    Nigeria Makes Gains in Efforts to Contain Ebola

    Nigeria's Minister of Health Onyebuchi Chukwu (R) speaks at a media briefing about the Ebola outbreak in Nigeria, while Interior Minister Abba Moro looks on, at the health minister's office in Abuja, Nigeria, August 14, 2014.
    Nigeria's Minister of Health Onyebuchi Chukwu (R) speaks at a media briefing about the Ebola outbreak in Nigeria, while Interior Minister Abba Moro looks on, at the health minister's office in Abuja, Nigeria, August 14, 2014.
    Anne Look

    The health situation could be turning the corner in Nigeria, nearly a month after an Ebola-infected air traveler from Liberia brought the disease to Lagos.

    Four people have since died of the virus there, but the health ministry said Monday that five others now have completely recovered. There have been a total of 12 confirmed cases. Public health experts say Nigeria has acted fast to contain the situation, though they admit more can be done.

    Meanwhile, fear of disease has spread even into the country's churches.

    Talking about Ebola, Simeon Uzih, a parishioner at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Oleh, said “for now, we just say 'the peace of the Lord be with you and also with you.' We just look at each other, but no hand shake just to prevent the spread of the disease.”

    The deadly disease can be spread through contact with a sick person’s bodily fluids. Governments around the region are advising people not to shake hands or hug. Uzih said he's not taking any chances, not even at church.

    Public health experts say this is no time for Nigeria to get complacent.

    CDC map of east Africa, areas with confirmed and probable cases of EbolaCDC map of east Africa, areas with confirmed and probable cases of Ebola
    x
    CDC map of east Africa, areas with confirmed and probable cases of Ebola
    CDC map of east Africa, areas with confirmed and probable cases of Ebola

    Public education efforts

    Nearly 200 people there remain under surveillance. Authorities believe they have found everyone who may have been exposed to Ebola since that infected air traveler arrived in Lagos on July 20.

    The leader of the U.S. Center for Disease Control’s team in Lagos, John Vertefeuille, said Nigeria has “hit a stable period.”

    “We’ve benefited from being able to trace every case that’s come in so far to that initial index case. We are using this period for preparedness, preparedness in case things did take a turn for the worse to make sure that the teams are in place to respond accordingly,” said Vertefeuille.

    He said the contact-tracing team is more than doubling this week to 200 people.

    Suspected Ebola patients have been moved to a new, clinical ward in Lagos. It has 40 beds -- more than enough for the current caseload -- though the government has plans to expand it even further just in case they are needed.

    The regional outbreak is far from over.

    Experts say Nigeria should focus, in particular, on public education.

    Ebola cases and deaths, as of August 13 update, 2014Ebola cases and deaths, as of August 13 update, 2014
    x
    Ebola cases and deaths, as of August 13 update, 2014
    Ebola cases and deaths, as of August 13 update, 2014


    There is an Ebola hotline, and the government is using Facebook and other media to get the word out. But misinformation continues. Text messages have been going around advertising false cures like drinking or bathing in salt water.

    Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, an infectious disease expert who runs the web site Nigeria HealthWatch, “These rumors need to rebutted firmly. and quickly and they need to be in our faces.  I think they are not doing enough of it. Some of it has started happening but … at the moment it feels like rumors are two, three steps ahead of us and it takes three, four days for the government to respond to any of these.”

    Urgent vigilance

    Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country with more than 150 million people. It also is the biggest economy in the region.

    The outbreak currently raging in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea is already unprecedented and out of control. Public health experts shudder to think what a large-scale outbreak in Nigeria could mean.

    Lagos alone is a densely populated city of some 20 million people, where experts say the virus could spread rapidly if given the chance.

    Hilary Uguru reported from Warri, Nigeria.

     

    • The local market does business as usual despite fears of the Ebola virus, Monrovia, Liberia,  Aug. 19, 2014. 
    • Children surround a man suspected of having contracted the Ebola virus, Monrovia, Liberia, Aug. 19, 2014. 
    • A health worker carries gloves at an Ebola treatment center, Monrovia, Liberia, Aug. 18, 2014. 
    • Liberian police are deployed at an Ebola treatment center to provide security, Monrovia, Liberia, Aug. 18, 2014. 
    • A woman reads a fact sheet for the Ebola virus during an awareness campaign in Lagos, Nigeria, Aug. 15, 2014. 
    • Liberian policemen dressed in riot gear disperse a crowd of people that blocked a main road after the body of someone suspected of dying from the Ebola virus was left in the street by health workers, Monrovia, Liberia, Aug. 14, 2014.
    • A poster displaying a government message against Ebola is displayed prominently at a maternity hospital, in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Aug. 14, 2014.

    You May Like

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border From Mexico

    In remote areas of the Sonoran Desert, which straddles the US-Mexico, thousands of migrants face arid desolation

    Video Recycling is Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    It's an ancient craft that stretches back millennia - but despite Lebanon’s trash crisis providing a lifeline, remaining glass blowers face an uncertain future

    Meet the Alleged Killer of Cambodia’s Kem Ley

    What little is known about former soldier, troublesome Buddhist monk and indebted gambler, raises more questions than answers

    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.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora