Hooray! WHO Officially Declares Nigeria Ebola-Free
WHO officially declares that Nigeria is now free of Ebola virus transmission after 42 days without new cases. And it also commends Nigeria for its diligence in fighting the disease.
In a statement released by WHO representative Rui Gama Vaz, told a news conference in the capital Abuja on Monday, 20 October 2014, report, he called Nigeria’s fight against Ebola a spectacular success story.
“Nigeria is now free of Ebola. The virus is gone for now. The outbreak in Nigeria has been defeated. This is a spectacular success story that shows to the world that Ebola can be contained,” Vaz said.
The first confirmed case of Ebola in Nigeria was on July 20, when the Liberian-American Patrick Sawyer travelling from Liberia, collapsed at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Lagos. He was transported to a private hospital, First Consultants Hospital, Obalende. Mr Sawyer died on July 25.
Being Ebola free is not the only success story Nigeria has received from WHO this year, as “earlier this year, WHO confirmed that Nigeria had eradicated guinea-worm disease – another spectacular success story. When the eradication initiative was launched, Nigeria was the epicentre of this disease, with more than 650 000 cases reported each year.”
Vaz further notes that Nigeria is also on its way to stop wild poliovirus transmission from its borders before the end of this year, noting that the country has “passed through the high-transmission season with only 1 single case of polio detected by a finely-tuned and sensitive surveillance system.”
He then concludes: “This is a good public health story with an unusual twist at the end. As part of preparedness for an imported case, several advanced countries with good health systems are now studying technologies “made in Nigeria”, with WHO support, to improve their own contact tracing capacities.
“The story has another very clear message, as noted by Dr Margaret Chan, the WHO Director-General. ‘If a country like Nigeria, hampered by serious security problems, can do this – that is, make significant progress towards interrupting polio transmission, eradicate guinea-worm disease and contain Ebola, all at the same time – any country in the world experiencing an imported case can hold onward transmission to just a handful of cases.’”
In spite of these success stories, the WHO representative warns Nigerian government and health officials to remain very vigilant and not take any chances, noting that Nigeria “will remain vulnerable to another imported case as long as intense transmission continues in other parts of West Africa.”
More than 2400 people have died of Ebola disease so far in Africa. The hardest hit country is Liberia.
XCLUSIVE Magazine reported on 19 September 2014 that an American doctor, Dr Joia Mukherjee, had described the slow response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa by the international community as racism.
“I think it’s racism. I think it’s easy for the world — the powerful world, who are largely non-African, non-people of colour — to ignore the suffering of poor, black people,” she said.