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Ebola: Jonathan Flags-off distribution Sanitizers

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By Ndidi Chukwu

Nigeria stepped up preparedness against possible return of Ebola Virus Disease on Thursday, officially starting a nationwide distribution of hand sanitizers. President Goodluck Jonathan, who flagged off the campaign in Abuja, said it should “signal the eventual distribution of hand sanitizers that have been distributed to specific locations in the States of the Federation.”
“Hand washing should always be the first option where it is possible,” he added in comments delivered by Health Minister Khaliru Alhassan The move is part of post-containment plans against Ebola, after transmission of the virus was stopped and Nigeria declared Ebola-free last October—months after it was introduced in June 2014 by Liberian American Patrick Sawyer who died in a Lagos hospital from the virus.

Nineteen others later caught the virus, and seven of them killed.

“If not for the existence of an efficient disease response mechanism already developed by the health sector, the outbreak would have been worse and that first index case would have migrated into the Nigerian Communities, spelling an endless doom to our population,” said the President.

“It is very gratifying that we also have a Post Ebola Virus Disease Containment Preparedness Plan that ensures greater vigilance against any unlikely event of Ebola outbreak. This is in addition to ongoing research to characterize and develop an antibody-based treatment against the virus. With the planned WHO-led Phase II clinical trial of the Ebola Vaccine, I have no doubt that Nigeria is on track to contribute significantly in making Africa and indeed the world a safer place against Ebola.”

The hand sanitizer distribution is only one of three campaigns flagged off in Abuja to represent “outcome of the ongoing transformation” in the health sector, days before the president stands for re-election.

The president also flagged off two newer versions of the National Health Insurance Scheme—the Primary Schools Social Health Insurance and the National Mobile Health Insurance. It comes nearly a year after the government launched a national drive toward universal health coverage. The president said, both newer health cover versions coupled with the State Social Health Insurance already underway, “It is reassuring and clear that we are now on track to achieve our targets of providing universal access to suitable health risks protection schemes and indeed achieving Universal Health Coverage in Nigeria.”

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