Quarantines should not be “awaiting death” facilities – Okiyi Kalu

By FactNews Admin on 18/08/2014

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John Okiyi Kalu is a popular blogger; public affairs commentator; and a technology consultant who also trained as toxicologist. He is one of the leaders of the group that spearheaded the campaign to compel the United States of American (USA) government to release the Ebola experimental drug to Nigeria – (#GiveThemExperimentalDrugs). In this interview with Factnewsonline he speaks extensively on ways Ebola outbreak could be overcome in Nigeria and West Africa.


Sir, we've been following the story of Ebola and its spread in Nigeria, as well as the roles you played trying to save infected Nigerians like Nurse Ejelonu. What was your motivation?  

Well, my motivation is very simple. We are all endangered if this monster is not stopped. If this monster is not quickly contained, nobody is safe in this country. You heard stories of people dropping dead in the streets of Liberia and other places; we are not immune to that. This disease I must say, will affect Africa more than any other continent if allowed to spread.


Why do you believe so?

It is because of some cultural reasons. You know we manage our dead people ourselves unlike in other continents, where if someone dies, there is a professional undertaker that will manage the corpse. Touching the corpse of an Ebola victim is a sure way of getting the virus and in Africa, we bury our own people. We also bathe them before burying them. As a people we also make a lot of interpersonal contact: handshakes, hugs, sitting together in congested buses with sweating passengers, sitting together in church pews, etc. The disease is spread from body fluids and contact with sweat of infected persons might be all that is needed to get infected, especially if the person is already symptomatic. In terms of personal hygiene, we are not exactly high up. Now we have to teach our people to wash their hands as many times as possible as well as ensure good sanitary practice.


 Now, there are bits and pieces of information out there which suggest that the virus may last longer than we expect even after death.  So, every other material that touches the dead person might actually contain the virus. There are also suggestions that it might even be airborne. While nobody can confirm that, one sure thing is that a lot of things are not known about Ebola hence it will be stupid to exclude anything.

So, the motivation is first and foremost, self-preservation.  I do not want to die neither do I want people close to me to die. Rather than wait and depend on chance, I have chosen to do whatever I can to help stop Ebola in Nigeria and Africa.


Some people thought you may have some other personal reasons for doing that?

Yes, actually at a second level, in terms of motivation, one of the earliest victims of this outbreak, happen to be a young woman that I have interacted with online, Nurse Obi Justina Ejelonu. She was a member of an online group I also belong to; Igboville. So, you can say that I have already been impacted at close range. She was a great lady; she was somebody who was always willing to take up a good course for others.

Nurse Justina was among those that organised free medical services Igboville delivered to Aba people in December 2013, where over 500 people were treated free of charge. She made contact with the evil American-Liberian Patrick Sawyer, simply because she wanted to help someone she assumed to be a "normal patient". Even though she observed all the necessary safety protocols, she was still infected by him.


How did it happen?

From what we have read, it looks like the Liberian was on a mission of infecting people; otherwise, number one, he never told the clinic that he was Ebola positive even when he had tested himself in his own country and knew he was Ebola positive. He lied to them and withheld life-saving information. Even after they have done other test like HIV test, he still did not tell them the truth until tests confirmed him to be Ebola positive.  Rather than behave responsibly after reconfirmation of what he already knew, he went on what somebody described as "indisciplined behavioural attitude".

We read that he pissed (urinated) on some people; we read that his blood was splattered everywhere; we read that he was generally unruly; we read that he was everywhere; it was like he was on a mission to infect as many people as possible. And Of course, Justina became a victim simply because she was caring for him.

So, from that personal angle again, I am motivated to see that others do not suffer what Justina suffered, and the spread actually contained so that we can all resume our normal lives. Bankers are now wearing gloves to work, screenings are being done in organisations like Chevron for entering staff and visitors, people are afraid.


Do you not think we are raising unnecessary alarm? Do you not think we would be creating undue panic in the system the way we are promoting this Ebola?

Let me warn at this time, if we treat this unfolding epidemic with kid-gloves, the country will be shut down in no time with massive costs to the social and economic fabric of the nation. There is likelihood of more than 50 percent drop in GDP if this outbreak continues to spread.

We've already heard that primary and secondary schools have been shut down and of course you'll expect that  soon universities will also follow, and then markets. In Lagos state, they are already subtly advising churches and mosques to desegregate; don't come together. Nobody is free!

I am a Christian, and of course I attend church services. The last time I was in church; last Sunday, I was looking furtively, I was trying to make sure I was sitting at the right place. And of course, you can bet that if somebody that had any form of discomfort had sat down near me, I would have bolted from that church. That's how bad it is.


Now, when you don't have control of sanitary and social behaviour of others, what you should do is to at least support whatever measure put in place by the authorities to stop the spread. One of those measures I believe is to inform people as much as possible about Ebola. Another key measure that I've always talked about is that government must make sure that the quarantine facilities are up to speed according to global best practices. What we have at Mainland Hospital, Lagos, is a disaster; it's an eye sore!

Even though it's a temporary facility, and I can understand that right now the government is just trying to put their acts together. The fact still remains that we could have done better. And we should do better. It is gratifying to read from Vanguard that one of the doctors in quarantine made a dramatic recovery today and is discharged. While I thank God for that piece of news, it also reminds me of what late Nurse Justina told me on the phone. She said some of the patients were being treated as VIPs with separate rooms and everything available to them, including oxygen, whereas another group that included her were dumped in a ward with minimal medical attention. It is on record that Igboville had to dispatch oxygen to help in her management but apparently it was too little too late. I wish to plead with the authorities to treat all those in quarantine as equals because no human life is more precious than the other.


Having given an explanation as to why you've been so keen in this campaign, how has the campaign been? So, how has it been smooth?

You see, there is this thing in government that once a commissioner or a minister grants an interview like we see with Labaran Maku and Minister of health, that it is enlightenment. Unfortunately, they are only reaching those who can read or have power to access electronic media.

They are forgetting that, as examplified by the Enugu incident where the nurse was said to have gone to Enugu to attend an event and possibly infected others via contact. You see, there is need to go down to the grassroots levels. There is also the need for a unified source of information to all media channels including online social media.  Even if you need town criers to educate the people, engage them Go to Churches, markets, mosques, etc, and educate them on the threat.  Nobody is safe as long as this virus is not contained.


So, when you talk about enlightenment, it doesn't just stop with some couple of slots on radio with jingles, No! What about those who don't have radio and television? What about those that don't listen to radio? What about the woman in the farm? What about the man in his working place? What of cattle rearers?

The mere fact that we had this salt misinformation, drinking and bathing with salt water, is an indictment on the managers of information in our country. My Uncle had to call me at about 4am, telling me to bath with salt water. It took me a lot of time to convince him, but he was still adamant. And when I could not convince him, I gave up knowing that he won't be hurt by bathing with salted water. Of course, it is not peculiar to me. People who were educated bathed salt water. What that says to me is that enough information is not out there.


What is the government expected to do?

Produce flyers, go to schools, let people know; go to town criers, let people know. Find Nigerians wherever they may be and let them know that once there is an Ebola patient, they have nothing to do handling the person. Call health authorities. Let them know that washing their hands before eating and after interpersonal contact will go a long way reducing the spread of this unfortunate disaster. Keep your environment clean and as many times as possible, wash your hands. It won't hurt to wash it a 100 times daily. You don't necessarily need sanitizers and government can also help by providing good sanitary facilities at public places including markets, stadium, churches, schools, airports etc.

You see, people are talking about sanitizers here and there. From my primary knowledge of sanitizers, I believe sanitizers should be effective against common bacteria. But has no special benefit with Ebola virus except to the extent that you are able to wash off the virus without allowing it to touch places like your eyes, nose and othe body openings.


Having pointed out the loop holes in information management, do you think the relevant authorities are addressing the issues?

I see some motion. But I don't know how much of a movement it is. I was listening to Abia radio earlier today (88.1Fm) and I heard the jingles, obviously someone is thinking about it. But there is one aspect I want to bring out to Nigerians, especially those in government.

You need to establish good quarantine facilities. Key to controlling this disaster is to quarantine those who are infected. Now, you need people to voluntarily come to you for quarantine. The only way you can ensure that is by making sure you have adequate management facilities in every quarantine location.

People must go into quarantine and come out alive. Otherwise, nobody will agree to go into quarantine in Nigeria. As long as people believe that quarantine is more or less an "awaiting death" facility, like we were seeing in Mainland Hospital Lagos, people won't want to give themselves up for quarantined management.

You can imagine we discovered that there were not enough Oxygen to even manage the patients at Yaba whereas one the key things they need is Oxygen. Why do they need oxygen? The Ebola virus is believed to deplete the oxygen in the organs, thereby damaging the organs. The patient that just died, Justina; we had to as a group called Igboville or Oganiru Ndi Igbo Foundation, send Oxygen canisters for her management. It is an indictment on the authorities. They need to make amends as fast as possible and save the remaining people in quarantine.

I don’t care whether the facility is being managed by Lagos state Government or the Federal ministry of Health but somebody owes Nigerians a duty of care. Nigerian tax payers, including Justina, who was paying her taxes as at when due, entered into social contract with the government. The social contract we entered into with the government, has some performances, by us, which includes obeying the rules made by the government. Also, the government has some performances including protection of life and properties. Whoever is responsible for that quarantine facility failed in his duties when he failed in providing simple elementary requirement in an Ebola quarantine facility. What are those elementary requirements; oxygen, blood, infusions, anti diarrhea drugs, anti-fever drugs, oral rehydration fluids and other drugs required to manage associated symptoms. That’s number one. Number two, you have to make the facility comfortable and hope-giving.

You have to take out the opportunistic infections that the quarantines would have to face. And then, you need to make the environment hope-generating. You cannot pack people in a ward; all those that tested positive, you pack them into a ward and wait to announce their death. Then, when one dies in the night, the other person sees the dead body. Haba!

 A quarantine facility is better off when each patient is kept in a room. That is why I made my recommendations to the people I know in the Abia state government which I know are developing a quarantine facility for the state. I said to them ‘why don’t you take over a Hotel, a hotel that have about 50 or even 30 rooms. Pay-off the owner and convert the place to a quarantine facility’. That way you will have a facility with guaranteed power supply, water and rooms for each patient. You then use ozone to disinfect the place and bring in negative pressure containment tents. These things are not too expecnsive and we should be aiming to have one good qurantine facility per local government area and with an adequately equipped ambulance service. We don't want people to die on the streets like we are seeing in Liberia and Sierra Leone. We should also bring in good personal protection equipment for nurses and doctors manning quarantine locations. They are at risk and we cannot afford to lose them in the process of their taking care of others.

It is also wrong in my thinking to allow Ebola patients to appear in general medical facilities like general hospitals and other clinics. The reason I say this, is, when they appear in teaching hospital for instance, they will first and foremost go and get hospital card, the chances are there to infect whoever is issuing the card. After the card, they will go to somebody to take their vitals like blood pressure and so on. Chances are there that they will infect that person because they will not tell the person that they are Ebola positive or suspects. They might not even know their ebola status until they see a doctor. By the time they meet the Doctor, they would have made at least more than 10 contacts including those sitting with them in hospital waiting rooms. Do not forget that in the waiting room of most Nigerian hospitals, you don’t have enough cooling, people are sweating and wiping off sweat. Remember that contact is via the body fluid of infected person and that includes sweat. As the patient is sitting, sweating and may be bleeding, not only will he deposit some body fluid on the seat, people around him are endangered from the sweat he is cleaning out from his body. So given our peculiar environment, what do you do to prevent situations like that? What you do under such situation is to establish communicable disease centres aka quarantine facilities. Since we are not prepared before now and I don’t particularly blame the current government, I would rather  blame the governments before  them, because Ebola is not new. We have had SARS in this country. We had lassa fever and even same Ebola was here in 1976 and we should have quarantine systems in place for it and other communicable diseases over the years. In times of need, we simply activate them.

We keep managing things with prayer and adhoc facilities. We should have had quarantine facilities in all the Local governments of the federation. Just 774 local governments. What you do is, you probably would have to use some of the facilities for other things that will generate activities and revenue for the state.You can even put a modern mortuary facility next to it, if this is what you want to do. You can put a communicable disease research laboratory next to it. What you do when there is a disease outbreak, you activate all those facilities again. The facility need to stand alone. You need to as part of your communication to the populace , say to them ‘if you suspect you have Ebola, do not go to any general hospital, don’t go to any clinic, go to so so and so facility located at so so and so place. There are Doctors there to handle you; there are drugs there to take care of you. When they appear, there should be enough materials to test them and when they have been tested, quarantine those that tested positive. If they are negative, you need to observe them.


Another worrisome development is the report I got in the media that there are people placed on "telephone surveillance". Government is saying that what they mean by surveillance is that they call them on phone on daily basis to ask them how they feel and if they have started manifesting symptoms, come to the quarantine when you start manifesting symptoms. Let me tell you, Nigerians have read about Ebola. To think that someone will wake up and start telling you  about his symptoms, it won’t happen. Rather, he will start praying and may even go to the pastor and infect the pastor. Why are you asking him on phone? Why don’t you create an observatory where everybody that is suspected to have had contact with Ebola patients can be kept for just 21 days and monitored directly? Stop calling them on phone because by the time they get there, they are already far gone. One key to note however is that Ebola is not spread until you start having symptoms. So by the time he tells you he is manifesting symptoms, he probably has left the primary place of contact to a different town, say Kaduna for instance, and you do your surveillance via phone and he tells you that he’s manifesting symptoms, what will you say? Of course you’ll tell him to enter a bus and come to Lagos. By the time he does that people sitting next to him would have been infected. So, the government has to put their acts together and stop thinking conviniently. Spend whatever is necessary to quickly end the spread of Ebola. Bear the cost of accomodating and feeding people on survellance or under observation.

We can forgive them for managing in an adhoc fashion but time is ticking, and every day, Nigerians will get more hysterical. More reports will come about infections; there will be increase in the number of deaths. So, if you don’t put your structure in place now, you’ll have an issue.


How do we guard against panic in the system?

Key to whatever you are going to do is that Nigerians must see a couple of people that have gone into the quarantine and survived quarantine. Once that happens, people will be more amenable to going into voluntary quarantine.

Again, on setting up quarantine facilities, there are international standards. I know that it was a Japanese company that pioneered the best containment tent for quarantining people when there was SARS outbreak.  I have access to that company, many other people have access to the company. If the government are interested in getting standard quarantine tents, I am ready to help. They are not expensive. With $700 or there about, one can set up a standard quarantine tent. So why can’t we get as many as possible? There are also specifications for the gloves and other things the Doctor and nurses need as PPE. At the moment, most Nigerian doctors are scared to handle Ebola cases. A facility in Enugu state was recently designated as a quarantine location and when we visited to verify available facility one of the medical staff simply told us that he only heard on radio about the designation and that if he sees an Ebola patient anywhere near there he will run for his life. Do you want to blame him? Have the government even trained them? It is a fact that no doctor is an expert on Ebola until you have handled one. Handling one means you must adequately protect yourself. Why not send people to Lagos to understudy the medical personnels from MSF and WHO? You cannot blame the medical personnel in that Enugu facility because they know that there are doctors in quarantine that have basically been abandoned to fate. Those doctors are not getting the treatment they need to live from my investigations. Never mind that one of them has now been discharged. Others are still in danger.

We are aware that you and your team had phone contact with the late Justina before her death, what were the reports she gave you on the state of the quarantine facility before her death?

The first thing she told me was, "oga, it’s like they put us in prison so that we can die’. I have recorded evidence of that. That was how she felt! And we later, through investigations, found out that she wasn’t exactly wrong. You can also check with some of my media contacts who spoke with her. I can give names. Prince Charles  Dickson spoke with her and she repeated the same; that nobody cares for them. In fact she told me that even in their quarantine place, there are people who are VIPs, who are in rooms whereas they themselves are in wards and that nobody is looking after them. That it’s like they are waiting for them to die. You can also confirm from her fiancé, who had direct contact with her, on the state of the quarantine facility because he was always in and out of the facility. Amazingly he is yet to be tested. Another media friend, Kelechi Deca spoke with her and the reporters at Sahara Reporters had active contact with people around her including medical personnel managing her and her fiance. I appreciate the professional way they have reported issues around Ebola by ensuring that people are informed without being alarmed. That's the model that I recommend strongly and wish that government finds a way to partner with online media owners to manage information on this outbreak. "Management" should not be understood to mean lying or witholding information but rather informing without alarming.

Let me tell you this, it is not rocket science to establish that those in quarantine were not given adequate treatment. We had to, as a group called Igboville, send gas canisters to her. That should tell you that the facility does not have oxygen. When it was brought to the location, the expatriate medical staff that was there expressed his profuse appreciation. He thanked us and said to us "look, i have a list of requirement that I’ve sent to the government, nobody is responding to me’. I sincerely hope their requirements have now been provided.


Who did you say received the oxygen canister?

It was the MSF medical staff that was on duty that day


You also said they have a list of requirement which the government is not responding to?

You can put me on record as saying that. That’s what we were told. You can also confirm it. I will try to get the fiancé of Nurse Justina who was looking after her to go on record and tell Nigerians exactly what the experience was. As a matter of fact, I can read out to you a message he sent to my phone. Look at the message, read it out yourself.

 “Am presently at the hospital to get her death certificate. Am angry and will do what Justina will do if it’s me. These people were brought here to die and that’s all but I can’t watch it”.

So you have read it from him directly. He was the one looking after her on daily basis. He was the one entering that facility and you can, from what you have read evidence the fact that things didn't exactly go according to the "all is well" playbook the quthorities have been feeding us with. He said ‘these people were brought here to die and that’s all but I can’t watch it’. He’s angry! I am angry and Nigerians are angry. Nigerians expect that the authorities will do much more than that.


Now that Justina has died, does it dampen your courage in pursuit of the course?

On the contrary, it reinforces my belief that we should do more. There are still others in quarantine. They are humans. They deserve to live. They deserve to be treated well. They deserve to be given every single support that was denied Justina. I believe that Justina would have died in vain if those other people die too. So we are going to knock on all doors; we are going to knock on the door of the minister, we are going to knock on the doors of Lagos state governor, we are going to knock on the door of every community leader to say to them ‘get involved and improve things’. And most importantly, for the states and the state governments, they should not look at it as a Lagos problem. It is not a Lagos problem. Every state must get ready and use this window to establish their own quarantine facilities.

When I read somewhere that the people from Enugu were to be transported to Lagos, I was very angry. For what? Does it mean that Enugu state government cannot set up an appropriate quarantine facility where they will manage these people? Why are you moving them inter-state? I want to believe that the story is not true because if it’s true, it then means that the state is still sleeping hoping that it will not come to them. That it is a Lagos problem.

It is not a Lagos problem and Lagos has not done anything particularly bad to deserve Ebola. The truth is that a demonic man brought the disaster through a port in Lagos. Now, from there, if you look at epidemiology in this matter, you would have known that 1 or 2 or 3 of the people who had if not primary but secondary contact with Patrick Sawyer have already travelled out of Lagos.

The nurse that attended a wedding in Enugu did so against advice. Do you understand that? Now how many other people did she make contacts with? They are telling us 20. What about those that made contact with the 20? Our prayer is that whoever had contact with the 20, had it when they were not expressing symptoms, otherwise you’re looking disaster in our hands. The Igbo travel a lot, much more than the others, so we can expect that whatever is happening will affect them much more. We need to get up and do something.


What are your advices, especially with the Enugu scars?

My advice to the government, to the authorities at all level is to make the quarantine facilities more comfortable, well equipped, well manned, and of international standard; and spread them around the country. I am hearing they are forming Ebola committees in the states, headed by medical doctors and all that. With all due respect to medical doctors, they have specific trainings, they are good at what they are trained to do I assume but this must be treated  like a project. Project managers must be brought in to lead with medical doctors in the team. Somebody who can see things from outside, somebody who will see beyond how many pints of blood we need to bring in? How many drugs should be ready? Of course a medical doctor should be in the Ebola team but doesn’t have to lead it. He shouldn’t even lead it. This is an unfolding epidemic and this is a containment project. We should get somebody that is project driven; a person that can quickly get the things you need from outside the country; establish the locations and ensure the locations are not in government hospitals or clinics or bugged down by bureaucracy.

You see, it is because the medical Doctors are leading the quarantines, that is why they can only think within the hospital environment and in doing so, they have succeeded in further endangering the lives of other Nigerians because they can only think government hospital. It will take an outsider with an outsiders view to realise that Ebola suspects shouldn’t even come to the public hospital environment but rather visit a specialized facility designed specifically to manage and care for them.

What do you consider the greatest current challenge as regards Ebola disease?

It is the lethergy of government officials and our usual attitude to life. You see, I have the feeling that but for democracy, somebody would have recommended, if it were in a dictatorship, to kill off all the people infected with Ebola as a solution. But of course, they can’t do that in a democracy. I don’t expect this government to do that. They have not done so; I have no evidence that they have done that. But why would somebody think like that? Because we tend towards quick fix silver bullet solutions. We tend towards silver bullets; that bullet that you will shoot and it will kill every problem instantly. Such bullets don’t exist. So the officials or those in authority should make sure that they put in place the right care, the right materials and the right processes. By now the ministry of health should have distributed a manual to all states for setting up and managing a quarantine facility and dealing with communication with the public.

Many more will go into quarantine with time and the earlier we prepare the better. Don’t forget, those who go into quarantine have a higher chance of survival. As a matter of fact, there is 60% chance of survival if you go into quarantine early.  That is why I am saying that those under surveillance should be brought in to a monitoring facility too.

Get a facility, keep them together and monitor them daily. Once any one is positive, isolate the person and begin treatment immediately. This thing is not a death sentence. People must not wait for others to die; it is inhuman, it is wicked, it is evil. Again, the N1.9 billion voted by the federal government is laughable.

I want to believe that they voted that money for the information minister and others to probably just distribute to the media houses and share the rest. Maybe it is devoted to only the information part of the campaign. When they are serious, they will vote money to have proper quarantines placed in all the local government. Ebola will not be the last communicable disease that will confront us. 

Rather than debate on the source; whether it is biological warfare, whether Sawyer's coming to Nigeria was intentional, can you begin to put measures in place to save lives? Can you begin to think about the safety of the people. After that, you can analyse and debate with long grammar and even apportion blames. That is why I have continued to demand and request that we do not make this a partisan campaign.

 This is not an APC thing; it is not a PDP thing. It is not about an APC failure or a PDP government failure. Luckily for us, Lagos is an APC state, the federal government is PDP led. So, let us remove politics from it and save lives. Politics destroys anything it touches. Oby Ezekwesili led bring our girls campaign was messed up the very day it became a slogan at one party's convention. Let those who like partisanship go to bed because Ebola does not know that you are carry APC or PDP card.

If it comes to you, it will kill you, it will kill a PDP man, it will kill an APGA man, it will kill an APC man it will kill a president, it will kill a minister, it will kill a governor. It does not discriminate. So, instead of partisan bickering, let us come together and fight our common enemy. If we do it right, Ebola will even become a unifying challenge.

Are there any other issues you would want to react to?

I want to say this, the nurses and the doctors that were infected by Patrick sawyer were all victims. Like the Liberian president pointed out, they were victims of Patrick Sawyer's indiscipline. Having accepted that, the Government of Liberia and the government of Nigeria owe them a duty of care in life and in death. Their families should be compensated. They did not commit any crime. They were at their professional duty post, doing their job. NMA members have gone on strike, only the private clinics were open. Otherwise, Sawyer would have been probably taken to LUTH (laughs).  Of course you know the extent of damage that would have resulted to.

My point is this; compensate those people, especially those directly impacted by Sawyer’s indiscipline. The Liberian government must compensate them; the Nigerian government must compensate them. The nature of the compensation I do not know, but it is for them to stop thinking ‘"man die go, woman born another"’. Today as I speak with you, Justina is being buried right now as we speak, at the Ikorodu cemetery. Her parents are at Mbaise mourning. Probably, they have lost a bread winner. I don’t know if she is the bread winner but definitely they have lost a daughter. There is nothing wrong with the governor of Imo state going to Mbaise to say to her parents ‘we are sorry for this loss, We know that it could be better, take heart. As a government, we are supporting you with so so and so amount, so that you can continue to live your life. Whatever she was taking care of, use the money and take care of that’". I know that we do not have adequate health insurance in Nigeria so we have to resort to government patronage in issues like this.

If it were to be in more developed countries, there would be an insurance company to fall back on. Of course, if an insurance company was involved, they would have made sure that they received the right care even while they were in quarantine. That makes it more imperative to develop our health insurance scheme beyond publicity, beyond counting as one of the things the regime has put in place. Can we take it to the next level of actualisation were it will be useful to the populace?

There is no reason why any Nigerian should be left behind in terms of insurance. Every single Nigerian deserves to have a health insurance. Whether paid by him or partly by the government. It is a necessity.

You also will need that to wedge against the irresponsibility of some professional bodies like the NMA that is currently on strike at a time like this. I call it irresponsibility because people are dropping dead and the only professional body that can save them are on strike. Whatever point you want to make can be made later. Whatever reason you have embarked on strike, you can keep that aside because you are our first line of defence. Yes, I agree that the N6,000 hazard allowance is laughable, it needs improvement. Of course, I do not agree with the other request that they are making; that hospitals should be headed by a doctor. No Sir! Hospitals are headed by administrators. Whoever has the competence to manage people and resources should head a hospital. It does not have to be a medical doctor. They do not have any special training in administration or management as part of their training curriculum. All these ego tripping must stop; we are bigger than the pharmacist the nurses, must be dropped! These NMA members are human beings

Let them consider the fact that they swore an oath. For whatever their hippocratic oath is worth, they should go back to work now. They can continue with their struggles later on. Those four doctors in quarantine are their members. NMA as a group didn’t do anything to protect those members. They have not even raised their issue. Groups like Igboville were not supposed to even be the ones championing the campaign to give better life to those medical personnel in quarantine. There are nurses bodies in Nigeria, where are they? They are quiet. NMA is not shouting about the welfare of their members in quarantine. They are not on radio or TV asking for better quarantine facilities. . What does that tell you? Dereliction of duties to your members! Then what are they doing? They are looking for better allowances. They are looking for more powers. They are on strike fighting for what?


I would have loved to draw the curtain, but the comment you made about Justina’s corpse being buried at Ikorodu. A report had it that those who die of the virus should be burnt, is that true?

I don’t know about burning. I was reliably informed by the same source you read that message from that Justina has been buried not burnt. I think what normally happens is that if  they don't bury Ebola victims on time, they will constitute health hazards to those alive. So, she died yesterday morning and by today they have been able to obtain the death certificate. The authorities, I believe, are the ones taking care of the burial at Ikorodu cemetry. They have the volunteers, the resources to manage the body properly.

Anybody talking about burning is going to the extreme. Why do you want to burn dead Ebola victims? What for? A virus will need a living system to thrive. Viruses have no life of their own. They need your protein to thrive. So once somebody is dead and the body goes under, the virus will die. The virus will not survive on sand, at least not for a very long time. So if you commit them to mother earth, that should be it.




Posted on August, 18 2014

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