Nigerian health minister declares Nigeria 'Ebola-free'
- According to Dr. Onyebuchi Chukwu, Health Minister of Nigeria, there is not one case of Ebola in Nigeria. This assessment is based on the criteria that anyone who was previously infected with Ebola has not shown symptoms for at least 21 days.
- The disease has been fully contained in Lagos, which has a population of 21 million people, and in Port Harcourt, which has a population of 1.4 million people.
- According to Dr. Chugwu, the Nigerian strategy for containing Ebola focuses on a three-pronged approach: surveillance, quarantine, and isolation.
Ebola virus first appeared in Nigeria during the current epidemic on July 23, when Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian Ministry of Finance official, came to Lagos for a meeting. What started out as minor symptoms before he boarded his flight later became severe illness en route. Those who came to the airport to greet him were subsequently infected. Sawyer died two days later in the hospital.
The Nigerian strategy has been to focus on surveillance first. According to Dr. Chugwu, it’s like house arrest for a person who isn't a criminal. Dr. Chugwu also credits tremendous support from the World Health Organization (WHO) Director General, Margaret Chan, who sent physicians to Nigeria.
Ebloa survivors were isolated and had their fluids and electrolytes replaced. Strikingly, there were no experimental drugs used. Now Dr. Chugwu is concerned about the need to control the outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, which are all contiguous to Nigeria.
The truly differentiating factor here is that, early on, Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathon, declared the initial outbreak of Ebola a health emergency and orchestrated a national effort to control and eradicate it.