Ebola: Colleagues raise questions as NMA prepares to honour Adadevoh

By PAUL UKPABIO
In Nigeria
Aug 23rd, 2014
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TRIBUTES poured endlessly during the week soon after Dr. Stella Adadevoh’s death became public. The Senior Consultant Physician at First Consultants Medical Centre Ltd gave up the ghost after she was infected by the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) by the late Liberian diplomat, Patrick Sawyer.

While the now famed late female doctor’s life-style was likely to have been largely a private affair, her colleagues have thrown their weight behind her even at death, and declared her a heroine.

According to the Vice Chairman of the Lagos State Medical Guild, Dr. Oseni Salau, he did not know her (the late Dr. Adadevoh) nor did he interact with her. “She worked at First Atlantic Consultants, while I work with the Lagos State Government. Our path never crossed. But as a colleague, I feel her death is an unfortunate one. Those doctors that are rendering medical services to these Ebola victims should be declared heroes. That is because they are the ones that have made it possible for us to be able to at least try to contain the disease. She, particularly, I mean the late Dr. Adadevoh from what I heard, resisted all entreaties from the Liberian Embassy for late Liberian Dr. Patrick Sawyer to be released from hospital.

“If the Liberian had been released, he would have spread the disease all over the place. So the reality here is that, she and her colleagues were the first to attend to him and were vigilant to ensure that he does not leave the hospital to spread the virus.” On his part, the Secretary of the Nigerian Medical Association, Lagos State, Dr. Babajide Saheed told us that he did not know her personally, but he knew she was a Consultant with First Consultants Medical Centre. “I wish she is alive,” said the doctor, “As far as I am concerned, the family of those affected should be compensated because they are actually the ones that have contained the spread of Ebola disease this far. If they had allowed the man to move out, it would have been a worse situation now. Dr. Adadevoh is a hero but a big loss to her family.”

As regard honour for the late Adadevoh, Dr. Salau, the Vice Chairman of Lagos State Medical Guild, said: “Well, she will be honoured. It will more likely be the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) that will do that. But as a guild, that may come up later when we have got full details of what has taken place and so on. But in the meantime, most of my colleagues and I agree that she is a heroine based on the fact that she prevented the man from spreading the disease around to the general public as he the Liberian Patrick Sawyer, intended.

“Yes, we are already working on a befitting honour for her,” said the Secretary of the Lagos NMA, Dr. Babajide Saheed. “My colleagues and I will come up with something soon.”

But while that arrangement is going on, the doctors are calling attention to more hair-raising issues about the outbreak of Ebola in the country and its management.

For instance, Dr. Oseni Salau believes that the on-going doctors strike has really been a blessing in disguise because “if the strike was not on, Sawyer would probably had been taken to LASUTH. And I can bet you that not less than 10 doctors would have come in contact with him. There would also have been the possibility that the Medical Director of LASUTH would have come in contact with him and even the Lagos State Commissioner for Health too would have had to come in contact with him at the hospital because of his diplomatic nature. They would have contacted it.

“And if we had got one patient that had it there in LASUTH, with the least information on Ebola as it were then, the thing would have gone around like wild fire. The truth is that, government should not blackmail us with resuming because of Ebola. The reality is that the lesser the number of people that get in contact with the Ebola patients, the better. For all those that are being cared for right now, they do not need more than five doctors to take care of them. So saying that the strike should be called off because of that is not related at all. Also, even if the strike is called off, what do we have on ground to prevent or protect us from the patients when they come to the hospital?”

“This is exactly what the NMA is fighting for,” added Dr. Babajide Saheed. “Doctors deserve to have better allowances, most especially life insurance. It is sad that people do not understand this matter that doctors are fighting for. The doctors presently at the Ebola Centre are okay. They have gone through test and have been found negative. But from the study, they have to be monitored. Though they are said not likely to come up with the disease because they now have a defence mechanism against the disease. But they still have to be monitored for about 60 days. And that includes their blood and so on. After the 60 days, they can then be wholly confirmed to be negative. That life insurance has not been done by the government even as at today. It is very unimaginable that we are working without life insurance at this period in time.”

Dr. Oseni Salau absolved the late Adadevoh of any negligence in protecting herself from the disease. “I do not think in any way that it was her fault to have contracted the disease. A doctor does not wear a glove for all patients, especially when there were no epidemic diseases in circulation. At the time the late Dr. Sawyer came around, when he was being interviewed, he denied ever coming in contact with any Ebola victim. He denied that he had ever interacted with anyone that has such. There was another issue about him urinating indiscriminately.

“But the reality is that until now at hospitals, doctors were not really wearing gloves for all patients, unless of course they have their suspicions. Moreover, Ebola starts like malaria. Most doctors will not ordinarily wear gloves because they want to attend to a patient that has malaria. Even when you wear gloves, how about sitting on a seat that someone with Ebola has sat down or laid down on the bed that someone with Ebola has laid? So all those risks are always there.

“There is also the possibility that Sawyer might have decided to pass the disease to those who did not let him go after all entreaties from his country’s embassy had fallen on deaf ears. The possibility is there. They resisted it and made sure he didn’t leave. Don’t forget that it is said that the man was urinating indiscriminately and even said to have spilled blood around. If that was the case, there is the possibility of deliberate attempt to unleash the disease on those that took care of him at the hospital. And you know, there were a thousand and one possibilities of how he could have passed it to late Dr. Adadevoh.

“That is why we insist and ask for personal protective equipment. If the man had urinated on them, they probably rinsed it with water, not knowing that it was a tragedy. It was only much later that the awareness became more and people got better informed about Ebola.

“The necessary gadgets should be made available for those that are caring for the patients. The government says that it has the protective gear, but we have not seen it. All we see are those shots of it taken in countries outside Nigeria. Where are the protective gadgets? Please, let the government bring out what they have and let those caring for those people use it. The Lagos State Government says it has 20 and the Federal Government claims it has 1,000. Are the Ebola victims in Abuja or Lagos? Let them (FG) send it down here.

“From the normal operations of that place, you need 30 per day. So, if we have 20, where do we stand? I must tell you, it is not good enough. I have not been able to go in there, and they have not shown to us any of the patients that are there. Our people have been volunteering. Some of them are even working in there. A lot too are presently involved in advocacy and so on.

“We have a committee in the NMA and in the Guild working on that. But those having direct contact with the patients must be well protected. We are not sure that they are well protected. Nobody is giving us that information. Right now, as I am talking to you, neither I nor the NMA Chairman has seen any of these patients. It shouldn’t be so. We are professionals; we are ready to do our work. We are also saying that the government should protect us too.”

Dr. Babajide Saheed, the NMA Secretary, insisted that the Minister of Health lied when he recently said that the resident doctors are not part of those caring for the Ebola victims. “The minister lied that resident doctors are not part of those caring and managing the patients. That shows that the minister is not in tune with what is happening with Ebola response treatment. If he knows what is happening there, he wouldn’t have made such comments. It is unfortunate that a minister and a doctor should say such about his colleagues. He was once a resident doctor before he became a consultant and a minister. With that comment, he has successfully made the resident doctors working there to be devastated. He is trying to discourage a lot of people from responding to the volunteer call for eradication of Ebola.”

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