By Sola Ogundipe
It is a year today that Nigeria recorded its first ever case of the Ebola Virus Disease, EVD. Now with the resurgence of the virus in Sierra leone and Liberia, here are five reasons Nigerians should worry about the the scourge before we witness another outbreak.
1) Unreliable epidemic alert mechanism
The response and alert systems put in place during the 2014 outbreak have either been dismantled or are dormant. Currently there is nothing on ground to detect if a traveller with Ebola arrives at any of the nation’s ports of entry. No screening processes exist for travellers living in, or visiting any of the nations currently battling Ebola.
2) Lack of robust health system
The nation’s health system is generally unable to cope with an epidemic of the calibre of Ebola. It is plagued by poor service delivery, weak infrastructure, lack of up-to-date equipment, shortage of medical personnel, etc., and in many areas, access to basic medical resources is lacking.
3) Shortage of competent medical personnel
Most health personnel that responded during the 2014 Ebola outbreak were volunteers. To date, only a handful of doctors and nurses in public and private hospitals have acquired advanced medical expertise or relevant knowledge about the quarantine procedures, treatment or preventing the spread of Ebola infection
4) Poor disease prevention culture
The culture of personal hygiene, particularly hand washing with soap and water, use of hand sanitizers, fever monitors, etc., has long been abandoned.
5) There is still no cure
There still isn’t really any way to treat Ebola. Although some promising drugs are on the horizon and researchers are working on various preventative and therapeutic vaccines, the only real remedy currently available in Nigeria is palliative support for any potentially infected individual.