|Nigerian Slums Saved from Ebola Pandemic|
The GOP's efforts to protect Americans from Ebola thus far have involved demanding that all flights to and from Africa be stopped; pretending that Republicans in Congress did not cut the budget of the Centers for Disease Control; and stoking hysteria among low information voters.
I would suggest that a select team of GOP leaders get on a plane to Nigeria, in order to receive the education of their lives. They will learn how a proud but far from wealthy nation handles a potential crisis beyond anything Americans could ever imagine in their worst nightmare. Maybe these entitled, whining politicians will see life through a different lens or maybe not.
An article in Time Magazine, "Nigeria Is Ebola-Free: Here’s What They Did Right," laid out the vital steps taken by this West African country to quell what could have become a catastrophe beyond description:
Nigeria had 20 cases of Ebola after a Liberian-American man named Patrick Sawyer flew into Lagos and collapsed at the airport. Health care workers treating Sawyer were infected, and as it spread it ultimately killed eight people, a low number next to the thousands of cases and deaths in other countries. Nigeria’s health system is considered more robust, but there was significant concern from experts that a case would pop up in one of the country’s dense-populated slums and catch fire.
So what did Nigeria do right? Chukwu and Dr. Faisal Shuaib of the country’s Ebola Emergency Operation Center, broke it down for TIME.
Preparing early. Nigeria knew it was possible a case of Ebola would make it into the country, so officials got to work early by training health care workers on how to manage the disease, and disseminating information so the country knew what to expect.
Declaring an emergency—right away. When Nigeria had its first confirmed case of Ebola, the government declared a national public health emergency immediately. This allowed the Ministry of Health to form its Ebola Emergency Operations Center (EOC). The EOC is an assembly of public health experts within Nigeria as well as the WHO, Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and groups like Doctors Without Borders. “
The EOC was in charge of contact tracing (the process of identifying and monitoring people who may have had direct or indirect contact with Ebola patients), implementing strict procedures for handling and treating patients, screening all individuals arriving or departing the country by land, air and sea, and communicating with the community. Some workers went door-to-door to offer Ebola-related education, and others involved religious and professional leaders. Social media was a central part of the education response.
Training local doctors. Nigerian doctors were trained by Doctors Without Borders and WHO, and treated patients in shifts with their oversight.
Managing fear. “Expectedly, people were scared of contracting the disease,” Shuaib said. “In the beginning, there was also some misinformation about available cures, so fear and inaccurate rumors had to be actively managed.” Nigeria used social media to to ramp up awareness efforts, and publicized patients who were successfully treated and discharged.
Keeping borders open. Nigeria has not closed its borders to travelers from Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, saying the move would be counterproductive. “Closing borders tends to reinforce panic and the notion of helplessness,” Shuaib said. “When you close the legal points of entry, then you potentially drive people to use illegal passages, thus compounding the problem.” Shuaib said that if public health strategies are implemented, outbreaks can be controlled, and that closing borders would only stifle commercial activities in the countries whose economies are already struggling due to Ebola. . .
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