Nigeria, the Deadly Ebola Virus and Labaran Maku’s ineptitude, By Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú
Nigeria produces, on daily basis, the sharpest minds in the world. Yet, the same country produces the dullest brains whose parade of ignorance continues to shame us. The deadly Ebola virus has killed more than 90 people in Guinea and Liberia with another suspected case reported in Mali. The resulting panic has set the world as well as smaller and less endowed West African countries on the edge but in Nigeria it is déjà vu all over again. No Shaking!
If God doesn’t deliver us, wishful thinking will. Those countries battling with Ebola really needs to improve on their religious beliefs because God is a Nigerian. Since Nigerians pray to Him most, He definitely loves Nigerians best to the exclusion of other countries. Our West African neighbours are better off tapping into our ANOINTING or ask our Minister of (Dis)Information, Labaran Maku, to “bless” them with some vials of the Ebola vaccine we have stockpiled. Since Miracles happen in Nigeria everyday, it is not unlikely that the World Health Organization (WHO), America’s Centers For Disease Control (CDC), National Institute Of Health (NIH), France’s Institut Pasteur and other world research bodies are unaware that we have scientists that have produced vaccines for this deadly viral fever that kills nine out of every ten victims. That is the power of anointing a la Nigeria! The rest of the world knows there is no vaccine for this virus, it exists only in the twisted logic of Mr. Maku.
We are in a pathetic state today because of loyal cutthroats like Mr. Maku. He is as bad as bad gets. He has no respect for facts and too intellectually lazy to be of any consequential use. People like Maku have continued to make nonsense of the left leaning ideologies on which they rode to power. He is the poster boy for chop I chop union leaders. These “comrades” only claim to intellectualism are a few Marxist chants, disused quotes, ill-fitting French suits and stupid caps. Unfortunately for Nigerians, every succeeding government knows enough to bring in a few hungry loudmouths and shut them up forever. Don’t blame Maku, the distance between his mouth and brain are equidistant to the distance between his mouth and Aso Rock.
As citizens, we are better of prepared on our own and be educated for our own good, since the government will only wait to deploy their fire brigade measures when sufficient people have died. Prayers cannot help prevent Ebola outbreak, vigilance, preparation, hygiene and precautions on meat handling will. I have written before that our winning the geographic lottery of not sitting on any major tectonic plate and the good set of geophysical cards we drew has rendered us complacent about other naturally occurring hazards like flash floods, desert encroachment and disasters arising from human actions like malicious violation of building code, accidents, technological failures, terrorist acts and epidemics.
In countries where service and merit trumps sycophancy, the minister of information would have rolled out comprehensive media blitz to educate the citizens about Ebola and how to prevent its outbreak. The borders would have been strictly guarded with every human crossing the borders monitored for signs of infection. That is not the Nigerian character. After all, the powerful can fly in private jets to choice hospitals at our expense.
While Nigeria plays the ostrich, medical charity – Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) has warned of unprecedented epidemic given Africa’s weak health services. Epidemiologist Michel Van Herp, working with the organization in Guinea said: “We are facing a scale that has never been seen before, looking at the number of cases in different areas.”
Since the outbreak has killed more than 90 people in Guinea and Liberia, with another suspected case reported in Mali. Ghana has stepped up its health surveillance on its borders with Togo, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast. It has trained port and border workers to detect signs of the disease, set up a national committee, restocked testing equipment and established a telephone hotline. That is what good countries do. What is Nigeria doing? Nothing.
Nigeria will wait until it is too late before it starts throwing money at the issue so there will be enough to steal. According to Dr. C.J. Peters in his book, Virus Hunter…”of the over fourteen hundred known human pathogens, Ebola is by far considered one of the scariest.” Viral hemorrhagic fever known as Ebola graduates from sore throat to fever, muscle pain, headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, organ failure and blood loss. The virus shuts down the body’s immune system. It is highly contagious and transmitted by contact with the fluids of infected people or animals. The natural hosts of this virus are wild animals. That is why health officials have told people not to eat bush meat especially those not well cooked. Infected humans can pass the virus on through sex and direct contact with blood, mucus and other body fluids.
Before this Guinean outbreak, the different strains of the Ebola virus are thought to be contained within localized areas with the deadliest strains in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Gabon, not in West Africa. Well, ease of global travel seemed to have changed the equation. This outbreak is Guinea’s first encounter with the virus and the geographical inference of the country being located where Ebola is not expected to cause massive deaths has failed! On March 22, researchers from Institut Pasteur revealed the dreaded Zairean species has crossed borders! Since viruses are not capable of spreading across large distances without human carriers, the answer lies only in human travel. With the incubation period of about 12 days for the Zaire species of Ebola and another three weeks before symptoms begin to appear; an infected person has enough time to travel across Africa. Another possibility that can aid the spread is the unwholesome handling and consumption of bush meat. Bush meat has enjoyed widespread status as special meat in Nigeria and many parts of Africa. While I will not advocate banishing bush meat from dining tables, our people should be educated about preparation, handling and cooking of bush meat. Infected animals can easily spread the virus and cause infection in hunters and food handlers.
So far, no one knows how this outbreak started but its spread stands as a warning to the world that the deadly Zairean and other species has escaped its geographic borders. We know that the species is causing havoc some thousands of kilometers away without us having a clue as to how it happened. We also know that worldwide travel can be accomplished in a matter of days allowing any contaminated person, food, or object to spread the disease.
In Nigeria, this outbreak should be out a dire warning. We must widen our scope for infectious diseases surveillance. We need emergency response centres to coordinate actions by first responders to protect the health, safety and welfare of our people. These emergency response centres must have designated facilities established in specific jurisdictions to coordinate response and support in their area of jurisdiction. The centres must have an emergency plan which is a documented scheme of assigned responsibilities, actions and procedures, required in the event of an emergency.
This outbreak is a reminder that we may think and believe bad things happens in other countries and to other people. I hope it is not too late. Infections travel fast, prayers and wishful thinking does not stop epidemics. Emergency readiness, actionable plans and information helps. Protect yourself even if the government won’t!
Leave Maku to his schemes and designs. There is no cure yet and there is no vaccine for Ebola.