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

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    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.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora