Nigeria: Nigeria’s Ebola response czar says quick action averted deaths

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - Nigeria’s top health research specialist who led the response to an Ebola outbreak which killed at least eight people in Nigeria said Wednesday quick response stopped the spread of the virus in the country.

“Nigeria did what Africa has to do on Ebola,” said Abdul-Salam Nasidi, Project Director of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), at a meeting of health specialists in Addis Ababa, which is discussing the creation of an African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ACDC).

“We strengthened the public health system. We started the training and we moved to states which did not have centres of public health. We did not look for foreign aid. We were on site 24 hours. We created an emergency coordinating centre. We directed support towards our targets,” Nasidi told journalists.

The African Union (AU) is racing to create the ACDC, which was approved at a recent Summit of the continent’s leaders to boost public health research. The proposed centre’s aim is to improve research and disease surveillance in Africa to stop outbreaks such as the current Ebola crisis in West Africa, which has so far killed at least 4,922 people.

“We could have lost more people. We prepared treatment which improved our survival rates. Our survival rates were the best so far. We did replacement therapy. We liberalized the management of the disease. We allowed the victims’ access to family using phones so as not to feel the effect of quarantine. This is so far the best and it is now being replicated,” Nasidi said.

The AU called for the creation of the Disease Centre, starting with the formation of a task-force to work out the modalities of creating the new centre.

“Africa can conquer Ebola. We started our responses late. The affected states were in denial. This affected our response. We now have to mobilise,” Nasidi said.

AU Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said Tuesday that the spread of Ebola in West Africa was a threat to the whole continent.

“Every country must be combat ready,” Zuma said during a meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and World Bank President Jim Kim in Addis Ababa. “Everyone must be ready. They must have strategies of how they would deal with Ebola if it comes to their borders. The level of preparedness would reduce panic. We urge everyone to do the same.”

At least 14,000 people have been identified to have contracted Ebola in the three hard-hit west African countries—Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Health officials said the number of deaths related to the Ebola virus disease is a reflection of the failing healthcare in Africa.

According to Nasidi, putting the ACDC in place would assist countries which do not have such facilities to improve on public health infrastructure.

“We need new structures. The proposals have been refined. We will identify regional centres. We are also talking about continuous funding and personnel. We have to empower our researchers,” Nasidi said.

The World Bank President said African countries were able to deal with the Ebola outbreak if standard healthcare was provided to those who have tested positive for the virus.

Nasidi conceded proper care of those who have tested positive improved survival rates in Nigeria.

-0- PANA AO/AR 29Oct2014

29 october 2014 15:42:00

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