(By Smart Chukwuma Amaefula)
“In my opinion, accelerated action for Ebola prevention should not be limited to the urban centres only. It requires the full involvement of all communities in Nigeria. This can be done by identifying, selecting, training and using people from specific communities to carry out Ebola prevention awareness. Community dwellers know how to communicate with their people and influence them for behavioural change“.
Continued from yesterday
THIS is the time for the social media to refrain from vituperating sarcasms against political and ethnic oppositions but unite to oppose Ebola. It is the time Nigeria social media radicals should use their social media handles to sensitise their thousands of followers and the opposition including the Femi Aribasalas, the Omojuwas, Jonathanians, the FFK, etc. This is the time other Twitter radicals like Oby Ezekwesili should realise that if you subtract 276 Chibok girls from 170 million Nigerians population, 169,999,724 million others are waiting in line to be kidnapped by “Ebola Shekau” and therefore should pick up her twitter handle to prod the government to sit not on the fence, but #BringBackOurHealth.
Nigeria should not envy nor crucify America and Canada for not sending them ZMAP and TKM Ebola. They should remember that first, every country has the option of raising its own scientific capacity in drug development, therefore they can use these drugs as they deem fit. Have we tried to find out what new innovative compounds have been developed by the Nigerian Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) and the Nigerian Institute for Pharmaceutical Research (NIPRD) since their inception upon billions of naira in annual budget for those institutes?
While applauding President Jonathan for releasing an intervention fund of N1.9 billion, it is important that unlike the Ecological funds, the Ebola intervention funds should not become an elusive and abstract instrument for the Nigerian masses in the fight against Ebola, but tangible instrument in swelling the bank accounts of the fund managers. Such huge amount of fund should not be injected as intervention fund by the Federal Government against Ebola and held by shrewd politicians while they expect the medical team to descend on Ebola totally ex nihilo. It will be a shame if Nigerians with their “medicine after death” approach records gross victims of Ebola before they can begin to purchase and supply the Ebola isolation centres with several equipment and materials needed as preventive measures.
To address the need for a near term capability to combat emerging threat materials, Nigeria government should use the funds to provide Domestic Response Capability kits. Also, importation of some sensitive equipment is highly imperative. As seen in other proactive countries, Joint Biological Agent Identification and Diagnostic System (JBAIDS) units should thus be given to emergency response personnel. These kits provide emerging threat mitigation capability that includes detection, personnel protection, and decontamination to health workers, NEMA. These preparatory activities should be accelerating to avoid Ebola gaining momentum in the country.
In my opinion, accelerated action for Ebola prevention should not be limited to the urban centres only. It requires the full involvement of all communities in Nigeria. This can be done by identifying, selecting, training and using people from specific communities to carry out Ebola prevention awareness. Community dwellers know how to communicate with their people and influence them for behavioural change.
In this light, I wish to suggest to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the Ebola Taskforce to enforce Ebola prevention awareness by mapping out Nigeria into zones (closely knitted communities) and train members from these zones as Awareness Teams. These teams will tailor the messages to the language (dialect) of that community.
Ebola prevention will be greatly achieved if the communities get involved. Every community has its way of communicating issues of concern. Their mode of communication is usually unique to their communities.
While I hope this threat pass over us, I also hope that Nigeria is capable of making “medicine before death” and not seeking only natural miracle of “salt and bitter kola” that will plunge the country into more health debacle. A consistent and vigorous pursuit of preventive measures now will surely ensure that a stitch in time will not only save nine but 170 million.
• Amaefula is a senior programme/research assistant at Academy for Social Justice, Abuja.
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