By Paul Obi
Abuja — The World Health Organisation (WHO) said it was collaborating with the federal government on precautionary measures at various seaports, land borders, airports and other entry points to prevent Ebola virus from entering Nigeria.
The measure came following reports about the spread of Ebola virus from rural areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo to Mbandaka City, which has a population of over one million.
The new outbreak in DR Congo has now recorded about 17 cases with three reported cases in Mbabdaka City, as WHO and health officials track about 500 persons believed to have had contact with the 17 persons with the virus.
Though, WHO said the new outbreak in DR Congo had not reached a level to declare it a global health emergency case, the organisation termed it ‘high risk’, placing about nine neighbouring countries on alert.
Nigeria shares border with the Republic of Cameroun, which has bounderies with the Central African Republic and Congo Brazaville, both in turn have a common border with DR Congo.
Speaking in Abuja during ‘The health for All Challenge Walk, WHO Country Representative, Dr Wondi Alemu, said: “WHO is working hand in hand with the Federal Ministry of Health and National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to take necessary precautions at the Port Health Services (PHS).”
Alemu explained that the essence of such collaboration was to ensure that precautionary measures were put in place at the seaports, border points and airports to prevent Ebola virus from reaching Nigeria.
Founder of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA) and Special Adviser to the WHO, Mrs Toyin Saraki, told journalists that given the need to take proactive measures, “WHO has released five thousand doses of vaccine to curtail the spread of Ebola in the democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).”
She added that “eventhough the disease has spread to the city of Congo, the disease surveillance spotted it out immediately and the leadership of WHO reacted promptly within three days with five thousand doses of vaccine.”
Saraki said: “WHO is going to be vaccinating around the area, the incubation period is 21 days and I believe WHO in collaboration with the DRC Ministry of Health will be able to contain the disease.”
She further warned that “Nigeria must not rest on her oars , we need to sensitised the citizenry on personal hygiene within and around them. Hand washing with soap must be taken seriously.”
On the significance of the event, she said: “The WHO leadership believed that we can achieve the Universe Health Coverage (UHC) for all.
“The walk is going on all over the WHO country offices, we in the Wellbeing Foundation are happy to be a part of this and we are happy that the maiden edition was a success with about 2000 participants and by next year we hope that about 20,000 will participate.
“It is expected of any one who want to remain healthy to walk three times a week for about 35 minute, this will help the cardiovascular muscles,” Saraki stressed.