Ebola: Five new cases in Lagos as doctor gets kudos

By IAfrica
In Nigeria
Aug 21st, 2014
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Lagos has recorded five additional suspected cases of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD),  the state government said yesterday.

Commissioner for Health Dr. Jide Idris, who gave an update on the government’s efforts to contain the virus, said two of the fresh cases are secondary contacts. The remaining three are primary contacts with the late Liberian Patrick Sawyer who imported the disease into Nigeria.

According to the commissioner, the fresh suspected cases have increased the number of patients in isolation wards from two to six. One of the suspected cases is a Liberian who was brought into the isolation centre from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport.

The Liberian has since been released, having tested negative to the virus.

Idris said: “Till date, we have recorded eight suspected cases, five of which were brought in yesterday. We have 12 confirmed cases on the whole, out of which five have died and five have been discharged. We are currently following up on 213 contacts while 62 have completed the 21-day follow-up.

“Yesterday, we recorded the death of the Senior Consultant/Endocrinologist of First Consultant Hospital, Obalende, Lagos, Dr. Stella Shade Ameyo Adadevoh. She, it was, who took the initiative to intimate the ministry concerning the index case and substantially to her credit, the moderate containment achieved we owe to her and her colleagues.”

Idris, recalled that the late Dr. Adadevoh led the team which attended to the index case and her doggedness and commitment saw her personally reviewing the case even though the patient had earlier been seen by a doctor.

“No doubt, she and other affected health workers are our heroes and heroines,” the commissioner said, adding:

“The Ministry of Health and indeed the Lagos State Government, commiserate with their families, co-workers, friends and loved ones on these irreparable losses which was on the line of duty.”

Idris said the ministry was continuing with the vigorous contact tracing which is now shifting from primary to secondary contacts, adding that the mode of spread remains mainly transmission from an infected person in an infective state and from infected animals.

He said: “This is call for vigilance as human transmission is only achieved by physical contact with a person who is acutely and gravely ill (fever being a key sign) from Ebola virus through body fluids, such as blood, urine, stool, saliva, breast milk, semen and vomitus.

“Burial ceremonies where mourners, including family members, have direct contact with patients who died of Ebola have also played a role in the spread and direct contact with bodies should be minimised at this period.”

Commissioner for Information and Strategy Mr. Aderemi Ibirogba said the Federal Government had not given the state any money to fight Ebola.

He said: “May be the Federal Government will release funds later. But we are grateful for all the Federal Government has done, giving us technical support in the fight against the virus, releasing their staff for contact tracing, case management, operation of the Emergency operation centre and the rapid response team.

 “This is a collaborative effort between the Federal, state government and other foreign partners. As at now, we are yet to receive money from the Federal Government.”

Ibirogba explained that the money spent so far on the health of the Ebola victims were funds released by Governor Babatunde Fashola to combat the disease.

But Minister of Health Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu said yesterday that the Federal Government had approved  N200 million for the Lagos State government to contain the spread of Ebola.

Chukwu spoke to reporters at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.

He said that the decision by President Goodluck Jonathan to assist the Lagos State government was in line with the commitment of the administration to tackle the Ebola disease and halt its further spread to other parts of the country.

Chukwu added that the United States government in support of the Federal Government’s efforts to check the spread of the virus had donated  30 body scanners.

The scanners that will measure temperature of travellers coming in and going out of the country, he said, would soon be deployed in major entry points across the country.

“As at today, Nigeria has had a total number of 12 cases of ebola, which include the index case, the Liberian-American, Patrick Sawyer, 11 Nigerians who were primary contacts with the one  index case. Of this 12, the total number of successful cases who have been discharged stands at five but the total number of deaths, including the index case, stands at five dead. Currently, the total number of cases in Nigeria are two, made up of one doctor, one nurse who had managed the index case and they are presently on treatment at the isolation centres.”

“The latest death occurred Tuesday evening and that is the death of the most senior doctor, senior consultant/physician/endrocologist at First Consultant Hospital, Lagos, Dr. Ameyo Adadevoh.”

“Regrettably, she lost her life to Ebola virus. Of course, she contacted the disease from the Liberian-American who exported the disease to Nigeria in the cause of treating that patient.”

“Indeed she had to physically restrain this infected person from escaping from hospital when the latter attempted to do so having been communicated that he was Ebola positive.”

He went on: “Indeed if that index case had escaped hospital at that stage, it would have spelt disaster for Nigeria, as many more persons, many of them who would have been very difficult to track, could have become primary contacts.”

“There is no doubt that Dr. Adadevoh is not only dedicated, committed and competent doctor, but she showed rare courage, rare sense of duty, service and patriotism to her country.”

“The  Minister of Health met with the family of the Late Dr. Adadevoh last Saturday in Lagos. The meeting was cordial and fruitful  in the sense that misconceptions and wrong information were thoroughly addressed, leading to better understanding and appreciation by the family of the efforts being made by the government to save the lives of all affected persons. And they did commend the Federal Government.”

Noting that there were rumours of the infection in some parts of the country, Chukwu said that they all turned out to be negative after tests were carried out.

On the discharged Ebola patients, he said: “We also want to say what we have gone through in discharging the Ebola patients who are now free of the virus; they do not pose any danger to the society.

“Anybody could suffer from any disease that person does not deserve to be stigmatise.”

According to Chukwu, the American Ambassador had explained that the trial drug, ZMapp, had not been sent to Nigeria because it is out of stock.

He added: “Presently, we have not stopped requesting for drug, the company in Canada and a lot of Nigerians, including the High Commissioner of Nigeria to Canada, are making that request to see whether the other drug being manufactured in Canada called TKM Ebola would also be extended to Nigeria. It is an experimental drug.”

“For whatever drug and if the patient gives us the consent, I want to stress this point that Nigeria, as an organised country, the drug will have to pass through our health ethics committee to have approval.”

On requests to carry out festivals in Osun and Ebonyi states, Chukwu said: “A letter from Osun State seeking to continue with Osun Festival is still being considered. The National Arts and Culture Festival in Ebonyi has been postponed.”

He said Atedo Peterside donated N100,000 through his foundation per bed per day to affected private hospitals. The first beneficiary is First Consultant Hospital, Lagos where the index case was managed.

He said: “The hospital has 40 beds and so will receive N4 million from that foundation. This is to aid the hospital to continue to pay its staff who have all been asked to stay at home and the hospital closed as a result of the confirmed case of Ebola virus.

“The hospital will have to be decontaminated. All the staff in the hospital who were around during the first index case are all under survillence and so are not working,” the minister said

Frontline businessman Tony Elumelu has pledged N50 million towards eradicating the disease in Nigeria, he said, adding that  Shell had allocated an ambulance to convey Ebola patients.

On the strike by doctors, Chukwu said: “They were not sacked; it is a matter of interpretation. For example, can someone while still working actively dies, or whether that person resigned or was dismissed or retired or terminated, all mean different things in the public service. But the end point is that the person is no longer working.

“I want us to put things in perspective. Government did not sack anybody. It is true that they themselves have not been working for almost two months, except those in private hospitals. Resident doctors in both federal and state hospitals have not been working for almost two months now and they have not participated in the control of this Ebola virus disease; they have not played any role.”

“So, even if government had not taken any decision, they are not there, they are not working and I don’t know why suddenly the media starts taking interest in them. They are not part of this success story. But what happened is like in the aviation industry where when you buy a ticket and you fail to show up, they say ‘no show’ and they even penalise you. So there is no show of the resident doctors and even government is still paying them.”

He added: “People who are unemployed even some doctors will be asking government a question, ‘is it because we did not have an appointment letter?’ What is the difference; you are paying people who are not working, we too are not working, why are you not paying us.

Sometimes we need to think deeply about what we do to ourselves.

“Government says why can’t we use this period to appraise properly the residency programme and come up with something that can help the country. Training of a doctor must be done properly. They have an allotted time to acquire skills. Anybody can pass the theoretical exams, but has he acquired the skills? We need to be honest with ourselves.”

“If you suspend any course, do you keep students redundant? You give them opportunity. If they feel you are wasting their time, they can apply for other courses.”

“This is only in federal hospitals; the federal government is not deciding for the states or private hospitals. It is not a permanent thing. I believe we will quickly appraise this situation and hopefully government will resume residency programme because honestly we need to train doctors in the specialist areas.”

The FEC yesterday also received update from the Health Ministry on efforts to kick out polio virus from Nigeria.

The Minister of State for Health, Khaliru Al-Hassan, said while 43 cases were recorded in Nigeria last year, only three cases have so far been recorded this year.

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