By Olasunkanmi Akoni
AS part of on-going efforts to prevent spread of the dreaded Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, into the country, a team of Federal and Lagos State Health officials, yesterday, visited the General Overseer of The Synagogue Church of All Nations, Prophet Temitope Joshua, to sensitise members of the congregation about persons from the affected countries in their midst.
The team, led by the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, expressed readiness to work with the health team of the Church by way of technical assistance, medical advice and training to ensure that no victim of the deadly disease comes to the Church undetected.
Also on the visit were the Special Adviser on Information and Strategy, Mr. Lateef Raji, his Media counterpart, Mr. Hakeem Bello, and another official of the Centre, Dr. Frank Mahoney among others.
Idris, in his address during interaction at the premises of the Church, said he visited the Church because of its recognition as an international Christian centre whose congregation comprise people from all over the world including the countries of the West African sub-region which have already been affected by the Ebola disease.
He said,“The visit is one of the Government’s strategies of sensitising faith-based organisations on the need to cooperate with the government to prevent the spread of the disease in the country by educating their adherents to escalate health issues to medical experts.
Spread of the virus
“Federal and the State governments are working hard on how to prevent a spread of the virus into the country. The delegation felt that because the church has some people from the West African sub-region as members and because of the influx and population of the congregation there might be need to check and also raise the awareness level on the disease in the church.
“We have our strategies that we intend to share with you. Again we need to know the resources you have here because whether it is one or two cases, if they are allowed to get out, it is a major problem. We are here to work together on how to contain this disease.
Director, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, Professor Abdulsalami Nasidi, ön the mission, noted that the visit was also to inform the Synagogue leader of the deadliness of the Ebola Virus and to ensure it does not find its way into the country.
Nasidi, an Epidemiologist and Virologist, described the visit as “positive engagement mission,”adding, we are here to engage you positively. We know the powers of this House and your powers and we are duty-bound to protect you and your congregation.
“So far, there is only one imported case of Ebola virus in the country and the Governments are duty bound to make sure it doesn’t escape into Nigeria. We do not doubt the power that God has given you, we can’t do that. But we want to help and make it work stronger. So our mission is to come here and work with you to explore ways to make sure that this thing does not explode”.”
He, however, particularly listed the countries of the West African sub-region; Liberia, Sierra-Leone and Guinea, as the greatest worry of the government at the moment because they are the countries that have already been affected by the deadly disease.
Nasidi explained that there are experts from the World Health Organisation, WHO, UNICEF, and other international experts to give guidelines, materials and technical expertise on how to ensure that the disease does not spread into the country.
“We have experts from the World Health Organisation; Dr. Musa is an expert who has all the guidelines, all the expertise to support us, we have Dr. Yaunti of the UNICEF, he is head of the UNICEF Mission here in Lagos and she has all the materials to work with you to make sure we talk to your people to know how to handle Ebola”, he said.
Committee on technical issues
Musa noted that all the experts are available to work with the committee on technical issues adding that together, the committee would work with the Church’s health team,“train them on how to handle this dangerous situation, pass some material to them, share knowledge with them and, if need be, we are ready to provide some technical materials. The delegation also has health promotion materials which it would share with the Church’s health team as well as “some technical underground support to assist some of your laboratories, because we know you have some, to be able to empower us to be able to diagnose this thing.”
Reiterating that the Ebola disease comes from a most deadly virus which “spreads so fast from man to man especially those who come in contact with the victims, share body fluid during treatment,” the expert expressed regrets that those who have come in contact with the victims in the urban areas are those who are providing care, either in the hospitals or in traditional homes.
He also explained that burial rites are so deadly “because unlike every other disease, Ebola transmits even from dead bodies to the living.” He cited an example of a case in Guinea where ten out of those who participated in the burial of a family member died of the disease.
Responding, the General Overseer, Prophet Joshua promised to work with the government to ensure the disease does not spread into the country. He said measures would be in place to ensure that people from the already affected countries do not enter Nigeria. One of such measures, he said, is to visit any of the countries when necessary rather than allow their residents come into Nigeria.
He also promised to suspend some of his major Church healing programmes for a few weeks adding, “I am ready to work with you. I love my country and I will be ready to work with you. Even if it is a rumour, there is need to secure our environment to ensure that it is safe”.