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

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs