By Ndidi Chukwu
Health practitioners are to be trained on dealing with viral haemorrhagic fevers, using an online portal the Federal Government has adopted from a serving corps member, said the Ministry of Health. The online portal www.otrac.com.ng developed by Farida Kabir while on national youth service at the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control could make Ebola training easier.
The zoology graduate from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, took coding lessons from her surrounding family of computer experts and said she was motivated to bring knowledge of hemorrhagic fevers online after the “Scary Ebola Epidemic” which killed thousands across West Africa.
“It was a pressing and trying period. Everybody’s first reaction was panic,” said Kabir.
In the mass hysteria that followed an anonymous social media message passed via instant messaging, requiring individuals to take a salt bath, her diabetic grandmother was bedridden from following the message.
“Information is out there but local communities don’t have access to it, and they will rely on the next alternative,” explained Kabir. The portal for Online Training and Awareness Campaign (OTRAC) for Viral Haemorrhaghic Fevers support a sign up and login for five separate courses and curriculum on hemorrhagic fevers, including Ebola, Lassa fever, and Yellow Fever.
A post-training test leads to certification endorsed by the Federal Health Ministry. Linked social media accounts will allow the NCDC, when it takes over the portal, to send messages to Nigerians on social media, and forums will allow users share their thoughts.
Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary Linus Awute said health practitioners will subscribe to the portal for training and testing. Modules for grading tests are expected to be in place when the NCDC takes full control of the portal.