Ebola again reveals The prize of professionalism in Nigeria

ebola-virusThe message was circulated via sms and whatsapp. It read …

“Avoid First Consultants Medical Centre Ltd, Obalende, Lagos, The victim in the first case of Ebola identified in Nigeria has died in the hospital. Do not go near Obalende”.

As I read the message, My mind swung immediately, into unraveling the puzzle. How could the virus have been identified in the patient and by who?

Very simple … the Medical doctors knew what Ebola was, and they could identify the virus. They were well trained professionals!

Ebola is a human disease caused by ebola viruses. Symptoms usually start two days to three weeks after contracting the virus with a fever, throat and muscle pains, and headaches. There is then nausea, vomiting and diarrhea along with decreased functioning of the liver and kidneys.

The disease can be contacted when a person comes into contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected person or animal such as a monkey or fruit bat. There is no specific treatment for the virus other than such help as giving the person either oral rehydration therapy or intravenous fluids.

Measures that will help in stopping the outbreak include washing of hands often with soap and water, avoiding close contact with people who are sick and ensuring that objects used by the sick are decontaminated and properly disposed.

According to the professionals at the First Consultants Ltd:

“He was fully conscious and gave his clinical history and told us he was a senior diplomat from Liberia. We refused to let him out of the hospital in spite of intense pressure as we were told he was a senior ECOWAS official who had an important role to play at the ECOWAS convention in Calabar. The initial test result from the Lagos University Teaching Hospital laboratory indicated a signal of possible Ebola Virus Disease, but required confirmation.

We then took the further step of reaching out to senior officials in the office of the Secretary of Health of the United States of America, who promptly assisted us with contacts at the Centre for Disease Control and World Health Organisation regional laboratory centre in Senegal. Jointly working with the state, Federal agencies and international agencies, we were able to obtain confirmation of Ebola Virus Disease (Zaire strain). The gentleman subsequently died on Friday at 6.50am (25th July, 2014).”

Even if they may have managed the case poorly initially, their full disclosure and willingness to provide information is rare in Nigeria and commendable. After the death of the patient, the hospital made additional statements that:

“there was orderly temporary shutdown of the hospital with immediate evacuation of in-house patients. This was followed by appropriate professional removal of the body and its incineration under WHO guidelines witnessed by all appropriate agencies. The reopening of the hospital would also be in accordance with WHO guidelines. In keeping with World Health Organisation guideline, the hospital had been shut down briefly for full decontamination”.

With such acts of professional management, how many staff of the hospital have since died from the disease? If none, it means the hospital management and medical team must be commended and given every assurance and support to sustain their business.

Government must honour and celebrate these professionals, who could have gone the way of other doctors who manage every case of Typhoid fever as if it is Malaria fever, killing poor hapless patients. They could have given medication for rashes instead of testing for the dreaded ebola virus, believing that it is not possible in Nigeria.

The hospital needs to be celebrated by the Government and promoted as an example of a world class institution in the country. Government should use the apparatus of the National Orientation Agency to educate Nigerians that the doctors in First Consultants hospital Lagos are a pride to the nation, and not people to be vilified.

There is a prize to pay for professionalism in Nigeria. It is rejection and lack of patronage, and it cuts across all strata of lives and society. The most guilty are the educated ones, those who should reason logically before drawing conclusions. As for me, I hope to go to the hospital next week, and give those doctors my deep appreciation for a saving a nation that continues to live in denial.


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