Nigerian doctors urged to curb Ebola spread

Kayode Obembe

Kayode Obembe, Nigeria Medical Association President

Ayorinde Oluokun/Abuja

Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has directed its members to be part of efforts to control the spread of Ebola Virus Disease in the country despite its ongoing strike.

The directive came as Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu confirmed that two fresh cases of Nigerians who have contacted the virus have been discovered in Lagos.

The minister said this brings to nine the number of those in the country that have come down with the disease.
He also said 139 persons are under monitoring.

Adewumi Alayaki, Secretary-General, NMA, said in a statement that all doctors must be actively involved in taming the spread of the virus in Nigeria by liaising with the states Ministries of Health, other relevant ministries and other stakeholders and helping to spread Information to enlighten Nigerians on the disease.

Kayode Obembe, Nigeria Medical Association President
Kayode Obembe, Nigeria Medical Association President

The Association however ask government to provide protective garments and take other measures to provide medical personnel from catching the infection in the cause of caring for patients.

NMA also asked government to provide life insurance for medical personnel who will be involved in taking care of Ebola patients.

“The Nigerian Medical Association hereby directs all Nigerian doctors to get actively involved in this control battle and provide all the needed professional expertise to ensure the situation is brought under control as quickly as possible.

“All State Branch Officers Committees are directed to immediately liaise with their respective Commissioners for Health, Information, Housing and Urban development, Environment and Water Resources, Education, as well as the Directors of Medical Services and Directors of Public Health with a view to fashioning out effective strategies to prevent the spread of the Ebola Virus.

“Also to be engaged are key traditional rulers, religious leaders, market leaders, Okada riders and Road Transport Workers unions to ensure dissemination of necessary information on preventive and protective measures.

“The foregoing notwithstanding, the NMA notes with sadness that doctors and nurses, the usual frontline health care givers and who mostly bear the hazards of health care, have been falling victims of the disease while in their line of duty.

“NMA therefore calls on Government at all levels to ensure that all the necessary Personal Protective Equipment are made available to doctors and other healthcare workers to reduce the casualties and mitigate the risks these humanitarian service providers face.

“Government at all levels, Chief Medical Directors/Medical Directors and proprietors of private hospitals are hereby reminded that this is not the time to subject doctors and nurses, and indeed other health workers, to unnecessary hazards.

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“The NMA therefore, advices all doctors and nurses to insist on being well protected through provision of appropriate PPE before getting involved in the high risk components of the control processes.

“The need to ensure all Health workers have Life Insurance Cover can no longer be ignored. The recent outbreak of Lassa fever that claimed the Lives of several Health workers and now Ebola are clear indications.

“It will not be out of place for government to institute a well packaged Life Insurance policy for all health workers, particularly all those involved in this battle against Ebola and other Viral Haemorrhagic Diseases.

“Furthermore, the State Chairmen of NMA are directed to set up Ebola control committees that will collaborate with the State Ministries of Health, International Governmental and Non-Governmental Organisations, and volunteer teams to actualize the goal of combating the Ebola disease scourge. The National body of NMA shall coordinate the efforts of her State branches.

“The lives of Nigerians are paramount to members of the NMA/Doctors and Dentists. We wish to place on record that irrespective of the on-going strike action of the NMA (due to her dispute with the Federal Government), the Association effectively responded to other national disasters like the bomb blasts in Kano, Kaduna and Bauchi respectively in keeping with our commitment to attend to any disaster anywhere in the country while the strike lasts.

“This is in accordance with our oath of placing the lives of patients above all considerations.

“The same oath mandates us to do all in our powers to maintain the noble traditions of medicine, which at the moment are under serious threat in Nigeria.

“It is in the same vein, that we are directing our members (Nigerian doctors and dentists) to rise up to the ‘EBOLA’ disaster and mobilise massively to contain and eradicate the devastating Ebola disease in our land under adequate protection with Personal Protective Equipment.

“The NMA national office highly appreciates her Lagos colleagues for their giant strides so far in this battle.

“We enjoin government to ensure that those under quarantine do not leave Lagos to any other part of the country during their quarantine period.

“While rising up appropriately to any health challenge in the country, we shall ensure that justice, sanity and lasting peace prevail in the health system of Nigeria. Government has the obligation to support us in this germane crusade.

“Finally, we call on all Nigerians and the International community to prevail on the Federal Government to do the needful as requested by the NMA that will bring about a speedy resolution of the impasse.”