Amaechi, WHO partner against Ebola
•Governor hailed for containing spread
Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi and the Country Representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Mr Rui Vaz have rpomised to work together in the battle against the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
Amaechi and Vaz spoke yesterday at a meeting in Port Harcourt, the state capital.
The governor assured the WHO chief that his administration would contain the disease with the cooperation of the global body.
He said the state had released over N300 million in the fight against the dreaded disease.
Amaechi said: “Whatever it takes for us to overcome Ebola, please, I will do it because it costs more if Ebola is on the loose than if it is contained. So, we are happy that the WHO is here to assist the Rivers State. We are happy that the WHO appreciates the dangers of Ebola to our communities.
“We need to contain Ebola. If there is no cure, then there is containment, so that more persons don’t contract it. The Rivers State Government is prepared to take all the responsibility. The citizens are ours.”
The governor cautioned politicians against politicising the Ebola outbreak.
He said: “They cannot be talking about politics in the midst of Ebola. We are talking about lives. For me, I am the governor of Rivers State. I am elected to protect the lives of Rivers people and ensure that they are alive. That is my responsibility to the people of the state.”
Amaechi said his administration would concentrate on how to contain the spread of the disease.
The governor thanked the WHO for partnering the state and promised to participate in the collaboration.
He said: “I am impressed with the performance of the Commissioner for Health, Dr Sampson Parker, on the level of work he is doing and the support we have being getting from everybody.
“Everybody is in now. The 60 persons we were looking for voluntarily surrendered themselves to the government. We want everybody to know that it is not everybody who will break down with Ebola. They are under surveillance for 21 days. If nothing happens, they are free.
“You are aware that of the three persons who were primary contacts to the late Dr. Enemuo, two have been confirmed negative while one is positive. I am not a doctor to tell you how the medical examination works. But that is the position now.”
Amaechi urged religious leaders to join in the fight against the spread of the disease.
He said: “I have told the Commissioner for Health to call a meeting with religious leaders so that they do not lay hands on their followers when they pray. They can pray from outside the church. I am a miraculous child who came to power through the divine intervention of God. But, for now, let us control the outbreak of Ebola. Let the religious leaders distance themselves from Ebola crisis and allow the government to handle it. While you believe in your pastor, please, make contact with us to assist you to defeat the virus.
“It is either you defeat Ebola in 21 days or Ebola defeats you. What the government does is to help you defeat the Ebola virus. But how does the government help you? The government takes you in, feeds you well and gives you adequate treatment. There are professional doctors who are at the temporary quarantine centre at Oduoha in Emohua Local Government Area to take care of all the patients.”
Vaz told the governor that the global body would render technical support to the state to fight the disease.
He said the WHO would also provide expertise, logistics, media, case management and surveillance, among others.
Vaz said: “Our main role is to provide technical support in terms of our experts who are in Lagos and in Port Harcourt, in surveillance, laboratory capacity, case management, how to deal with the case that we have, logistics, personal protection equipment and reagents for medicine.
“Also, they will render support in the areas of media and training people to know the key message to inform the community, which is a critical matter.
“It is clear that we can contain the epidemic in Port Harcourt and we have no doubt that the structures are in place, people have been trained hough there are still some prevailing challenges.
“This is why I have the honour and privilege to meet the governor to discuss those issues. The key message I am taking is that we have a very strong leadership and ownership by the government of Rivers State. Everything is going to be done through His Excellency and the officials to interrupt the chain of transmission as soon as possible.”
He urged the media not to create panic among the people in their reports but to give definite messages on how the people could prevent the disease.
Vaz added that fund disbursement from the WHO would not be delayed to avoid hampering the operations in affected places.
The WHO chief said discussions were being held across the world on drug dispensation for Ebola.
The WHO hailed Amaechi for containing the EVD in the state.
Vaz addressed reporters yesterday after a tour of the Emergency Ebola Treatment Centre in Oduoha, Emuoha Local Government Area.
News of the disease broke when Dr Ikechukwu Sam Enemuo died in Port Harcourt, the state capital.
Enemuo contracted the virus when he treated a worker of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Oluibukun Koye, who had primary contact with the index case, the late Liberian-American, Patrick Sawyer.
Vaz said the Rivers State Government had the right structures to fight the disease.
The WHO chief assured that with the support and collaboration of the residents, the disease would be defeated fast, especially when suspected cases were diagnosed and treated on time.
According to him, efforts must be made to ensure that the virus does not spread outside Port Harcourt so it does not get to other states and neighbouring countries.
Vaz was optimistic that the government, WHO and other volunteers organisations would contain the spread of the disease.
The WHO representative assured that the virus could be stopped but appealed for the support of all, including the rural dwellers and the media.
Health Commissioner Parker said over 90 per cent of Enemuo’s contacts had been reached.
He said: “Ebola can be contained and that we are going to contain it here is not in doubt. But everything depends on all of us. It is not the responsibility of Ministry of Health only; it is an inter-sectoral response that requires attention.
“It is import to highlight that there is a strong commitment by the governor, the commissioner and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
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