Written by Ndidi Chukwu
The World Health Organization, WHO, and the Federal Ministry of Health today held a joint press conference in Abuja were it was formally declared Nigeria Ebola Virus Disease free. This is an exciting moment for Nigeria. WHO has observed that Nigeria has completed an extended 42 –day observation period and commended the country’s ability to contain a deadly virus.
“The lines on the tabular situation reports, sent to WHO each day by its country office in Nigeria, have now been full of zeros for 42 days,” WHO said in a statement today.
“This is a spectacular success story that shows that Ebola can be contained. The story of how Nigeria ended what many believed to be potentially the most explosive Ebola outbreak imaginable is worth telling in detail.”
After 93 days of aggressive communicable disease surveillance against Ebola Virus Disease, which was imported into the country by late Patrick Sawyer a Liberian American on the 20th of July, World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared Nigeria Ebola free, after 42 days the last patient under surveillance was confirmed negative.
“The Virus is gone for now, the outbreak in Nigeria has been defeated, this is an indication that Ebola can be contained in the world” Dr. Rui Gama Vaz, WHO country representative to Nigeria speaking on behalf of WHO shortly after he declared Nigeria free from the deadly Ebola Virus Disease which has ravaged most African countries and currently being battled with in US, Spain.
Delivering his speech, the WHO country representative for Nigeria, said “I congratulate the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Health, the Center for Disease Control led by Dr. Abdusalam Nasidi, who participated in the fight against ebola you are all heros to the nation and the world”
“when we heard of the outbreak in Nigeria we were so worried, being that it is the most populous country in Africa, we were more concerned that it started in Lagos, the state with over 21 million people, we were thinking of how to do contact tracing in such a country, but I am glad the nation rose to the challenge and we are today celebrating bravery done by all who contributed to see that the Virus is contained” said Dr. Rui Gama Vaz
The WHO representative also praised Nigeria’s effort in disease control, “if a country like Nigeria can do this, contain Ebola, eradicate guinea worm and close to eradicating polio, we would say that the country has indeed taken ownership of its health intervention programmes and is doing greatly well which is commendable, I must also inform Nigeria that the nation is still Vulnerable, until Ebola Is totally eradicated in other countries” Vaz warns
Former Minister of information Labaran Maku, and Chairman Ebola communication committee said the success in the conquest against Ebola Virus disease has restored hope for the leadership and the citizenship of the Nigeria nation. “It is heart worming for Nigerians all over the world, it restored our hope for a greater Nigeria, for its citizen and leadership. For a nation to conquer you must have a strong political leadership, and political will, we have defeated and we will also be able to defeat any other invasion, Ebola has the capability to weaken any nation” Maku said, adding that the effort to contain Ebola virus was done by Nigeria alone with health professionals in Nigeria with no experimental drug form US or any country.
Dr. Pauline Havey, US Center for Disease Control said the world is looking forward to learning from Nigeria especially on areas of contact tracing,”the CDC has been working with Nigeria, sharing technical assistance and will continue to ensure that Nigeria also erased Polio virus and control the spread of HIV/AIDS”
The former Minister of Health Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, who handed over to former Minister of State for Health, Dr. Khaliru Alhassan today being Monday after the WHO Ebola free certification, was full of appreciation to all health workers who participated in the fight against Ebola virus, he noted that his achievement as the minister who contained the Ebola Virus Disease could not have been so easy without the workers. Chukwu emphasized against discrimination against Ebola survivors who are currently being discriminated against in Nigeria,
He said “in case of any other Ebola invasion in Nigeria, the only person who is safe to shake hand is a survivor because that survivor you discriminate against can never be infected again”
He commended the Lagos State government, and Rivers State, and entire Nigeria for compliance and patience with health workers on the course of the fight against Ebola