Fear grips Kuje residents over plan to designate hospital Ebola centre

By IAfrica
In Nigeria
Aug 15th, 2014
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There was panic at the General Hospital, Kuje, Abuja yesterday, following a speculation that the hospital had been designated an Ebola isolation centre.

The speculation began when The Red Cross supplied medical aids to the hospital. Three vehicles, with the insignia of the Red Cross, ferried  the supplies.

Youths gathered around the hospital discussing their fear that the authorities of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) had designated the hospital as a centre for the treatment of the deadly disease.

Hospital workers rushed out to re-park their vehicles outside the hospital premises for fear that the youths might go violent. There were reports the community was opposed to the idea of an EVD Isolation and Treatment Centre in the town.

But, the Chief Medical Director of the hospital, Dr Terbunde Egbi, dispelled the rumour that the equipment and drugs were for Ebola treatment.

Dr.  Egbi, who received the officials of the Red Cross, said there was no need for panic as the materials and equipment delivered were not for Ebola.

She added that some of the materials were also meant for some Primary Health Care Centres within the area. She said there was no need for anyone to be apprehensive over the pronouncement of the government on the issue, adding that “as of now, no Ebola case has been reported in the FCT”.

Dr Egbi told The Nation that since the pronouncement of the FCT Minister last weekend, there was only a sensitisation visit of all stakeholders to the hospital on Monday. According to her, the hospital workers were yet to be briefed properly as everything regarding the matter was yet at planning stage.

A nurse, who spoke with The Nation in confidence, said she had to quickly move her car out of the hospital premises when she overheard the youths saying they would mobilise others to register their protest against the use of the hospital as an Ebola Treatment Centre.

She said she could not take things for granted as the youths might start disrupting the smooth operations of the hospital.

Sources, who spoke in confidence, were of the view that the hospital was not suitable for the treatment of Ebola as it is surrounded closely by residential buildings and a school.

A pharmacist said it would have been better for the government to use the Zuba Cottage Hospital for the Ebola Isolation Centre. He said since the Zuba hospital is more isolated and is yet to be put into use by the government, it would be better to engage it for the purpose of the Ebola Virus treatment.

Said the source: “For Ebola treatment to start here, it means you have to evacuate about 600 patients out of here. In addition, daily no fewer than 60 patients visit this hospital; so, where are you going to take them? It is unthinkable that the government will designate this hospital for Ebola because it is in the middle of people.

“Look at residential buildings all around and a school behind the hospital; even at that are they going to engage the health personnel here for that purpose. Don’t forget if you recruit them for such assignment, they would not be allowed to have contact with people for 21 days. So, what happened to the health workers who come every day and are living in the midst of the people?”

Speaking with The Nation, Mr Kafas Ibrahim, an indigene, said it was wrong for government to say that it would use the hospital for Ebola treatment, saying already people are apprehensive about the decision. He said the youths were prepared to stage demonstrations against the decision.

Isah Ahmed, another resident, said the FCT Minister and those who arrived at the decision were looking for trouble. He said it was an attempt to carryout experiment on the people of Kuje, stressing that he would not be surprised if the experiment back fired on the people in government.

The Head of Department for Health at Kuje Council Area, Dr. Veronica Yama, said the local government authorities in conjunction with other stakeholders had only started sensitisation visits to settlements, towns and villages in the council.

Dr Yama, who spoke on behalf of the council, said besides the sensitisation, every other thing regarding the matter was at a planning stage.

The traditional Ruler of Kuje, the Gomo of Kuje, could not be reached, but his Secretary, Mallam Abubakar told The Nation on phone that the palace was aware of government’s decision.

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