Lagos, Abuja not prepared for potential Ebola outbreak

Following the re-emergence of Ebola in a northern village in the Democratic Republic of Congo in May, fears have spread across Africa on the possibility of another Ebola epidemic.

The last outbreak in West Africa killed more than 11,000 people, with the largest casualties recorded in Liberia. The virus was introduced to Nigeria by Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian-American, who came in on July 20, 2014 through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja.

Sawyer died five days later but he had set off a chain of transmission that infected a total of 19 people, out of whom seven died.

The latest outbreak of the disease has reportedly killed three persons in the DR Congo and health authorities in the country are trying to track down 125 others who may have been exposed to the virus.

In his reaction to the fresh outbreak of Ebola in the DR Congo, Adewole had said the country was prepared to contain any outbreak, stressing that screening and surveillance were ongoing at all entry ports in the country.

Adewole also disclosed that there were designated health facilities close to entry ports in Lagos and Abuja.

While a reporter confirmed the installation of Infrared Thermal Imagining Scanners at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja, for the screening of passengers entering and leaving the country, we found no evidence of preparations to treat victims or contain an outbreak.

One sophisticated thermal scanner each has been installed at the departure and arrival foyers of the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport to gauge passengers’ temperature. If a passenger’s temperature is above 37.5 °C, he or she is asked to step aside and taken into the Port Health office for further checks to determine whether it is a case of infectious disease, including Meningitis and Ebola.

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According to a senior doctor at the Port Health office at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, if there is a suspected case of Ebola, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is notified while the patient is isolated and taken to a designated facility.

Asked where the designated facility for Ebola is located in Abuja, he called a staff to find out. The staff said the facility was located in Zuba.


Zuba Hospital

Zuba Cottage Hospital is located along Gwagwalada Road, less than 10 kilometres from the airport. It must have been chosen for its proximity to the airport.

But when a reporter visited the hospital, there was no indication of its designation as treatment centre for Ebola patients or anyone suffering from a communicable disease.

It is a two-storeyed facility built since 2009 but recently renovated for use as a General Hospital for Zuba and surrounding communities. There are five wards in the hospital, each with six bed spaces for patients, but there were no patients in the wards when our reporter visited on Thursday June 8.
Only the accident section seemed functional, as nurses were seen going in and out of it.

A senior nurse told ICIR that the hospital had not been informed that it could be used for isolation and treatment of Ebola patients.

“We are not aware of that. But you cannot even bring an Ebola patient to a hospital like this that serves as a General Hospital,” she said.

Source: ICIR Nigeria

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