The past week has been filled with elation as I have watched my son Abba marry the love of his life, but my heart is heavy over news of the recent Ebola (EVD) outbreak in West Africa, which has claimed the lives of at least 86 Guinean and two Liberian citizens. It is with love for my country and our West African brothers and sisters that I write to spread awareness of the disease, and encourage Nigerian citizens and the Federal Government to take every necessary precaution to ensure that our country remains unaffected by EVD.
The International Congress on Infectious Disease (ICID) has stressed that there is no need for alarm, but has encouraged West African governments to work together to contain the spread of the virus. As of 06 April 2014, there have been no reported cases of Ebola disease within Nigeria, and the Federal Health Ministry has set up precautions to field against transmission from affected countries. I would like to encourage the Federal Government and others in leadership to similarly spread the message and establish a localized protocol to guard against possible infection in Nigeria. As part of the protocol, I encourage the FG to follow suit with Morocco and Saudi Arabia, by instituting extra health screening at entry points to the country.
To the citizens of Nigeria, I encourage both your awareness and calm cooperation with health experts as they employ international best practices to prevent EVD. If you or a loved one are exhibiting signs and symptoms of EVD, please contact your local health officials immediately. I have full confidence in Nigeria’s health authorities and their international healthcare partners to effectively survey for illness and monitor for unusual patterns and symptoms compatible with the disease.
My prayers are with our West African neighbors as they continue their efforts to protect their citizens from Ebola disease. I remain confident that the Nigerian government and health officials will employ every effort to protect the Nigerian people, and that we Nigerians will remain informed and steadfast in our response to EVD.
Signs and Symptoms of EVD (from the World Health Organization):
“EVD is a severe acute viral illness often characterized by the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding. Laboratory findings include low white blood cell and platelet counts, and elevated liver enzymes.”