Monday, October 20, 2014

Nigeria Ebola Virus Free

The World Health Organization (WHO) has now officially declared Nigeria free of Ebola virus transmission.  The first Ebola case in Nigeria was reported on July 23rd in Lagos.  The greater community was alarmed because Nigeria has the population size of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone combined.  Furthermore the unsanitary and crowded conditions of this country and of Lagos in particular provides an optimal environment for Ebola virus transmission.  The US consul in Nigeria Jeffery Hawkins, said " The last thing anyone in the world wants to hear is the 2 words, 'Ebola' and 'Lagos' in the same sentence."  Despite these facts, Nigeria has proven to be a success story that many countries can learn from.  Earlier this year Nigeria also eradicated guinea worm disease.  So is Nigeria just lucky or is there a secret weapon?

This success story can be attributed to the strong and united leadership and cooperation that followed this epidemic.  The Nigerian response to the outbreak was quick and coordinated.  Within days an Emergency Operations Center was established by the CDC and accepting patients.  The government and other economic entities were able to provide resources and financial support to different organizations and hospitals.  Another important factor to consider is Nigeria's premiere virology lab under the Lagos University Teaching Hospital.  The lab was prepared and stocked to respond to Ebola virus disease; this response included diagnosis and treatment by competent staff members.  In addition there was efficient contract tracing conducted by WHO, the CDC, and other health organizations.  These different parties found 100% of known contacts, which is a feat in itself.  Another factor that contributed to this success story is Nigeria's success with trying to eradicate polio.  For quite some time the President Goodluck Jonathan has pushed polio eradication; with his support the country is expected to eradicate wild type polio by the end of the year. When the first case of Ebola virus was reported the country switched their polio eradication techniques over to the Ebola virus; the foundation for viral eradication was already in existence.  GPS assisted real time contract tracing, and daily mapping of transmission were two techniques used by epidemiologists to study the epidemic.  

What most health officials and government leaders in Nigeria want the world to know is that if an African country with it's own set of issues can eradicate the Ebola virus, then it is possible for another African country to do the same.

-Nalani Wakinekona


No comments: