When it was reported recently that among the Ebola cases in Lagos State, there was remaining one patient who had the symptoms, everyone was happy that the state government and Nigeria as a country were succeeding in the containment of the disease. In my last article on this topic, I emphasized on the need for co-operation by all stakeholders so as to stop further spread of the Ebola Virus Disease. This is because as can been seen from more reports the virus has gradually started travelling to other parts of Nigeria with River state being the second major state experiencing the case of the spread of the Ebola Virus Disease after Lagos.
The spread of the disease to Port Harcourt was a case of outright disobedience and lack of co-operation by an ECOWAS official with the authorities and other agencies in containing the spread of the Ebola Virus. If the ECOWAS official had co-operated and remained in Lagos as he was instructed to do, he would not have infected his doctor and more people who have now tested positive to the virus. For the Doctor, how unfortunate, that at his level and with all the effort he was aware that Government and other agencies were making to fight this disease, he still went ahead to arrange for an infected Ebola patient to travel from Lagos to Port Harcourt for treatment.
Sadly, he has paid with his life and it is hoped that everyone would learn from this.
It is important for all to have the right attitude towards the fight against the Ebola Virus and take the right actions to stop the spread. It is unfortunate that the actions of these two individuals – the ECOWAS official and his Doctor have spread the virus to Port Harcourt. Already, the wife of the late doctor and a heart patient at the hospital where he received treatment have been confirmed to have contracted the virus, while another doctor and a pharmacy technician working in his hospital have been said to be showing symptoms of the Ebola Virus Disease. Additionally, over 150 people who have been identified as contacts of the dead doctor have now been placed under surveillance in Port Harcourt.
Still talking about having the right attitude and taking the right actions as far as containing this epidemic is concerned, the way a suspected patient was also handled from the airport to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) in Lagos caused fears and raised some important questions as to how cautiously we are fighting the Ebola Virus Disease. It was reported that the patient was brought in by members of the health authorities at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja to LUTH on Monday this week. I am aware that a lot of awareness and training has been given to health workers and volunteers who are directly involved in the fight against the Ebola virus. As such it was surprising that a suspected Ebola case had to be taken to a hospital where they were not equipped to attend to Ebola patients. Did the airport health workers forget the right place to take the patient to? What was the distance between Infectious Diseases Hospital and LUTH in the same Yaba? Was this a right action by the port health workers?
On the part of the management of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) and being aware of the Ebola epidemic, would it not have been right for there to be an Ebola emergency preparedness plan just in case a patient was brought to the hospital with symptoms similar to the ones shown by an Ebola patient. Why will a hospital as big as LUTH and with all the awareness about the Ebola virus not have special Ebola Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to put on to be able to attend to any suspected case before properly referring such case to the Infectious Diseases Hospital, which is also located in Yaba. As far as the death of that patient was concern, the action of the port health workers and the management of LUTH contributed to the death. Probably if the patient was taken to the right place or if the medical workers at LUTH had the right Personal Protective Equipment, he would have gotten better attention, which could have saved his life beyond just taking his temperature. To stop the spread of this virus, we must have the right attitude towards the fight and also take the right actions.