… Her sister gets ready for killer diseases

By Prisca Sam-Duru

Dr Ama Adadevoh is the Deputy Chairman of DRASA Trust, which is the Dr Ameyo Stella Adedavoh (DRASA) Health Trust set up in memory of her late sister who was one of the doctors that helped contain the Ebola outbreak in Lagos and Nigeria in 2014.

Tell us more about DRASA Health Trust?

DRASA Health Trust was founded following the death of my sister, Dr Stella Ameyo Adadevoh    and ever since then, it has been making concerted efforts towards ensuring that history does not repeat itself.

Stella Amaeyo Adedavoh

The Health Trust is working to improve and advance healthcare in Nigeria, particularly in the area of infectious diseases. It was set up to bridge the gap between funding and resources as well as in other areas of greatest need within Nigeria’s health sector. This informed the reason for organising the recent conference in Lagos.

The conference was tagged ‘Public Health: It starts with Me’ and it held in partnership with Quramo Publishers and DRASA Health Trust. The Panel Discussion took place as part of activities lined up to commemorate the 3rd year since Ebola entered Nigeria and to remember my sister, Dr Ameyo Adedavoh for her efforts at helping to contain the disease. It was initiated as part of DRASA’s efforts aimed at keeping our environment safe from contagious diseases.

What was the core objective of the conference?

The conference has actually become a platform to have a discussion about the very important topic of preparedness. And by that I mean, we are very concerned about how prepared we are in the case of any outbreak because we know that there would be another outbreak at some point in the future. It doesn’t have to be Ebola, it could be Lassa fever, meningitis, Zika, there are so many things out there and we want to do our part to make sure that collectively, we’re prepared for what might come next. So the idea of the conference was to bring together stakeholders to have a discussion on what are the concerns and what are the solutions to these concerns going further.

This was why we brought in speakers in the caliber of the Hon Commissioner Health Lagos State, Dr Jide Idris; Executive Director, Partnerships Public Health Scientific Affairs Merck & Co. Inc, Dr Joan Benson; Founder/CEO Merit HealthCare Ltd, Dr Lolu Ojo; Professor of Pathology, University of Pennyslavania, Dr Glenn Gaulton etc, in addition to a team of health personnel from US and Liberia.

My take home from that conference is that it’s going to be a collective effort; we can’t sit back and wait for the government to do everything.

The private sector and other entities need to engage and support the government and collectively, we can ensure that we can be ready for any eventuality.

Is there a particular measure that can be taken to prevent any outbreak of disease in the country?

There’s no one thing that anyone can say. But general infection control practices, policies, education of the public are very important.

Also, health care workers have to be trained and the facilities have to be equipped. There are many factors that we need to work on to ensure that we are safe.

From the look of things, hand sanitizer and hand washing exercise have disappeared with the Ebola, why is this so?

I agree with you. At the time we were battling Ebola, there was a lot of fear. Also, there was enough public education on the importance of hand washing. So because people were afraid, they listened to the advice. Obviously there’s no longer Ebola and people have gone back to their old ways and this goes back to what I said earlier that we need a lot more public education, people must be made to understand the importance of hand washing whether or not there is an outbreak of disease.

One of the things DRASA is doing is that we have a hand washing campaign. And as of today, we’ve reached over ten thousand students working with the ministry of education; we got permission to talk to them about the importance of hand washing.

We do a demonstration on the proper technique to wash your hands and we make it very interactive by asking volunteers to come on stage and demonstrate and the kids are really excited. We teach them a song relating to hand washing.

It’s been great and it’s having great impact on them. We are hoping that even a quarter of those kids go back to their communities and share this information, it would make a difference. We plan to expand the campaign to other areas such as the food industry.

There’s been so much emphasis on private partnership, how exactly should this happen?

Well, as you can see from the key recommendations from the conference,    we are already contributing immensely towards actualizing a safer environment for everyone. And we are still very ready to do more with the government.


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