The House of Representatives on Wednesday asked the Federal government to take immediate steps to create public awareness and get Nigerians prepared on how to combat any possible outbreak of Ebola virus in the country.
Adopting a motion of urgent public importance sponsored by Hon. Uyime Idem, the House said the Federal government, acting through the Federal Ministry of Health should immediately increase surveillance at all entry points into the country to respond to any suspected outbreak of Ebola coming from the neighbouring countries, especially Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The House said the Federal Ministry of Information should create awareness on the deadly Ebola virus while the Federal Ministry of Health should work with the West Africa Health Organisation (WAHO) and World Health Organisation on strategies to bring the Ebola outbreak under control and provide regular updates on preparedness, containment and response measures.
Leading a debate on the motion, the Akwa Ibom lawmaker recalled that Ebola Virus Disease was reported and confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO) on the 25th March, 2014 in West African Countries as a small part of the epidemic which originated in Guinea and represents the first outbreak of the disease globally.
He said the suspected cases were soon reported in the neighbouring countries of Liberia and Sierra Leone, while the index case in Nigeria was a Liberian-American, Patrick Sawyer, who flew from Liberia to Nigeria’s most populous city of Lagos on 20th July 2014.
“He was reported to be violently ill upon arriving at the airport and died five days later. In response, the Nigerian government observed all of Sawyer’s contacts for signs of infection and increased surveillance at all entry points to the country.
“On the 9th of October 2014, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) acknowledged Nigeria’s positive role in controlling the effort to contain the Ebola outbreak and praised the staff of the Ebola Emergency Centre who coordinated the management of cases, containment of outbreaks and treatment protocols in Nigeria.
“The World Health Organisation declared the feat ‘a piece of world-class epidemiological detective work and spectacular success story” and Nigeria was officially declared Ebola-free on 20th October 2014 after no new active cases were reported in the follow-up contacts.”
He expressed sadness that despite huge resources that have been invested in the fight against the disease, a new case was reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on the 7th of February, 2021.
He disclosed “on Sunday, February 14, 2021, Guinea’s ministry of health also declared an Ebola outbreak, following the mysterious death of three persons.
“It is on record that in the last one year, we have experienced two waves of infections and recorded a lot of fatalities. Today, Nigeria Health institutions have been stretched beyond its capacity in the past one year and cannot afford to witness another outbreak of dreaded virus.”