Ebola: Mr President Sir, there is no time to think

By John Okiyi Kalu on

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Ebola: Mr President Sir, there is no time to think.

The Nigerian government must, as a matter of urgency, get whatever the Americans are using to manage the Ebola case in Atlanta. Otherwise we just might be starring at a national disaster.

Granted that the substance they are using is purely experimental but since the American doctor is responding positively, we need it today to keep our people alive. I am aware that while this virus kills within 2 weeks, the medical challenge is to keep the patient alive long enough for the body system to fight back and reduce or take out the viral load. Of course the experimental substance might later manifest side effects but even that is an acceptable risk given that the other outcome is certain death.

Today, I read a news report that Lagos state government is advising churches and mosques against large gathering of people because of Ebola. That suggests to me that the situation in Lagos is worse than reported and I fully understand the need not to create general panic. Yet we need to do the needful and save lives.

Let the government approach America’s CDC for the substance and also present the formulation to our scientists for mass production. This is no time to consider later side effects because the alternative is more horrifying. People need to be alive long enough for an appropriate drug to be produced, tested and circulated. Keep them alive by all means.

I might be sounding alarmist but I see no reason why the states in the south east and others should not set up screening points for those coming from Lagos and outside Nigeria. This Ebola is worse than ogbunigwe and HIV combined and we need to declare an emergency NOW. This is necessary at Federal and state levels. Even LGAs need to be co-opted.

The leaders of NMA must call off their strike without pre-condition and prepare their members to deal with this emergency. It appears irresponsible to me that our doctors have chosen this time to sit at home. What manner of professional dereliction of oath/duty is that?

I understand that many medical workers may have had contact with the dead Liberian, Sawyer, in the course of his management in Lagos. As at today we have confirmation that a doctor and a nurse involved with his intial treatment are dead. Where are the others quarantined? Did they mix up with the general population after the initial contact with late Mr Sawyer? Have we been able to isolate all the people they met afterwards? Where is the quarantine facility and how is it being managed? Are there similar facilities in other states to help contain this looming disaster? Is the quarantine facility good enough to prevent cross infection between the "suspects" and actual carriers?

If the government does not act in time, general panic will ultimately set in and make the situation difficult to manage.

Get the experimental substance NOW and contact research laboratories in US to come and use our people as "guinea pigs" if necessary. As sad as that sounds, that's really what whoever is receiving serum or any form of ebola treatment is. Long term monitoring will be necessary but containment and keeping people alive are key.

Given our helpless situation against Ebola, I leave you with this social media post by Mazi Uche Ezechukwu which might sound funny, yet relevant. Whatever can help, even if remotely, should be employed.

"Take bitter cola. If it doesn’t cure your Ebola, it breaks down your stubborn cough and makes it easy for you; it dissipates that heavy dose of alcohol you consumed – some even say it renders alcohol undetectable by breathalyzers. Head or tail bitter cola is a winner."-Uche Ezechukwu

With Ebola, there is really no time to think and I suspect that many will willingly accept HIV infection to this disaster called Ebola.

Let's act now before it is too late.

JOK 6/8/14


Posted on August, 7 2014

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