ANPA Statement on Recent Ebola Virus Outbreak in West Africa.

Dear Colleagues

Please find attached a Press Release from the Association of Nigerian Physicians in the Americas.

PRESS RELEASE (August 3, 2014)

The Association of Nigerian Physicians in the Americas (ANPA) has been monitoring the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in West Africa since the first case was detected in Guinea. As the disease spread through Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, ANPA was pleased with the preemptive efforts made by the Federal Government of Nigeria to avert spread to Nigeria.  Unfortunately, on July 20, 2014, an American, who had been working in Liberia, was on his way home to the United States when he became very ill, while in transit, and was admitted and placed in quarantine in a Lagos Hospital. A well-coordinated effort by the First Consultants Hospital, Lagos, local laboratories in Nigeria, the Federal and State Governments, United States’ Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and WHO’s Regional Laboratory in Senegal resulted in a rapid diagnosis of EVD.  Immediately after the diagnosis, the appropriate Nigerian Local, State and Federal Government agencies took the necessary steps to lock down and decontaminate the Hospital, and identify and isolate all contacts associated with the index case. Although the patient died from EVD on July 25, 2014, all the contacts identified have tested negative for Ebola virus and are symptom-free as at the time of this press release.

ANPA will like to commend the Federal and Lagos State Governments of Nigeria and the Nigerian Centers for Disease Control (NCDC) for mounting a swift and robust response to this health crisis, and for efficiently coordinating an international response with the help of Nigerian experts in infectious diseases and experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United States’ Centers for Disease Control (CDC). ANPA is very pleased that the Nigerian Government initiated a vigorous health education campaign to inform the public about the disease and mitigate its spread long before the index case arrived. Also, ANPA is grateful to the WHO and the United States’ Government for their assistance and collaboration with the Nigerian Government.

ANPA will like to reiterate the scientific facts supported by the CDC and WHO that:

•             Ebola virus is spread person-to-person through direct contact with bodily fluids including blood, urine, sweat, semen, and breast milk, and is not currently known to be transmitted by airborne route.

•             Persons affected by Ebola can transmit the virus while febrile and through later stages of the disease, as well as postmortem (after death) through contact with bodily fluids during funeral preparations.

•             Isolation and infection control procedures, including standard, contact and droplet precautions should be strictly adhered to when handling suspected cases (persons) or corpses.

ANPA believes that, based on the existing scientific facts and knowledge, banning air travel is premature at this point. ANPA believes that such a measure, which is unsupported by the scientific consensus, will cause unnecessary hardship and needlessly disrupt economic activities across the Economic Community of  West African States (ECOWAS), at a time all the Governments in the region should be working cooperatively to contain the transmission of the disease. ANPA, however, supports the CDC’s travel advisory of Category 3 to countries where Ebola is rife at present and the prescribed preventive measures for public health purposes.

While the overall Nigerian response to the EVD crisis has been commendable so far, it is clear that the danger is far from over. ANPA will like to urge for continued vigilance by all citizens to report suspected cases to the health authorities. ANPA will also like to implore the Local, State and Federal Governments of Nigeria to utilize the lessons learned from this experience to improve our public health disaster response systems.

ANPA would like to assure our fellow citizens that our association will maintain direct contact with authorities in Nigeria to gather continuous information and offer out technical support and advice if and when needed.

Nkem Chukwumerije, MD, MPH, FACP

ANPA President

Abraham Osinbowale, MD

Chair, ANPA’s Advocacy Committee

Igho  Ofotokun, MD

Specialist, Infectious Diseases

 

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