The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control Project Director, Dr. Abdulsalami Nasidi, has said that the health ministry is monitoring huge umber of people in Rivers State suspected of Ebola virus after they came in contact with a Port Harcourt doctor who died of the disease but hid the fact that he had been exposed.
Nasidi said this yesterday in Geneva, saying that there is an improvement due to the state government’s efforts at containing the spread of the disease.
In an interview with our correspondent, he said that more isolation wards were being opened in the oil industry hub but voiced confidence that there would not be “many cases” there.
After having contact with an Ebola patient and before his own death on August 22, the Port Harcourt doctor, named by local authorities as Iyke Enemuo, carried on treating patients and met scores of friends, relatives and medics, leaving about 60 of them at high risk of infection.
The doctor’s wife, who is also a physician, and a patient in the same hospital have been infected with Ebola.
“Everything about this doctor was in secrecy, he violated our public health laws by treating a patient with a highly pathogenic agent who revealed to him that he had contact with Ebola and didn’t want to be treated in Lagos because he might be put in isolation.
“He treated him in secrecy outside hospital premises. When he became ill he did not reveal to his colleagues that he had contact with someone who contracted Ebola. He was taken to General Hospital, a private hospital that sees everybody.
“That is the only case that effectively escaped our surveillance network. We are paying now for it,” Nasidi said.
He spoke on the sidelines of a two-day World Health Organisation experts meeting aimed at speeding development of Ebola drugs and vaccines.
Meanwhile, Rivers State Governor and Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has called on religious and traditional leaders in the state to collaborate and work with the government to contain the Ebola virus in the state.
At a meeting with traditional rulers, church leaders and those of the Muslim community in the state, at Government House, Port Harcourt, Governor Amaechi gave the leaders an expository on the Ebola virus, and enjoined them to sensitize the people in their different domains, and partner with his administration in its operational rescue effort.
Amaechi also warned against stigmatization of people suspected to be infected with the Ebola virus, and added the Rivers State Government was doing its best to contain and eliminate the disease in the state.
He urged religious leaders to preach about the disease in their churches and mosques as well as traditional rulers in their various communities, and urged them to encourage those under them to imbibe healthy living and wash their hands regularly.
”Ebola is not a death sentence if properly managed. If you think you are Ebola positive and you know and you run away, you are living in self-denial, so we want our pastors, our Imams and our traditional Rulers to pass on this message.
”First, don’t heal them for us, don’t touch them for us, just call us, we will come there and in six hours after examination of the person, we will get the result and treat the person accordingly. We are doing that to curtail the spread of Ebola in our communities, so that we can be free to do our normal businesses. But for now, don’t live in fear, don’t panic. If you suspect a case, please call the Ebola line,” Amaechi admonished.
”We are discouraging people who have Ebola from going to Church. You know why? Church is a place that you have a large crowd of people. If you touch one person or two persons, you are contaminating the environment and the people, and they may get infected. If you suspect, don’t stigmatize them, call the Ebola line, we will come there, they will examine them. We have the machine to test them and within six hours we can get the result whether a person is Ebola positive or negative.
”You don’t need to run away when you have Ebola. When you run away, you will infect your family members. That means they can also possibly die, but if you report to government, government will take you in, we will feed you and feed you well, hydrate you and doctors will treat the symptoms if they come.”
Amaechi urged the religious and traditional leaders to immediately report suspected cases of Ebola virus using the available Ebola help lines: 08167733939, 08033124314 or the state’s emergency line 112. He said the state has the necessary facilities to deal with the outbreak but called for the cooperation of everyone in the state to successfully stamp out the Ebola disease.
”My reason for calling you today is to partner with you in our attempt to eliminate Ebola from our communities. As religious and traditional leaders, you have a major role to play. Your people respect and listen to you.”
”I am a Christian, a Catholic by birth and I have been in the Catholic Church all my life and I believe in the miraculous power of the Lord Jesus Christ. If you don’t know what miracle is, I know. I hope you know how I became Governor? I am the only Nigerian that became governor without an election. So, I don’t doubt the power of God and I have never doubted God’s power. But, I also believe that we need to do the needful to deal with Ebola. So, don’t walk into Ebola because you believe you have spiritual powers. It means that if you have people who have the symptoms of Ebola, you call the Ebola line.” he said.
Also addressing the leaders, the Incident Control Manager on the Ebola virus in Nigeria, Festus Shuaibu, explained the process of containing the disease in Rivers State, assuring the people of success as recorded in Lagos while stressing the need for cooperation and support from the traditional and religious leaders in the state, as well as all people of the state.
A cross section of religious and traditional leaders at the meeting commended Governor Amaechi for the initiative, describing him as being proactive. They pledged their support and cooperation to tackle the Ebola outbreak in the state in partnership with the Amaechi administration.
Meanwhile,eight experimental treatments and two vaccines for Ebola were on the table yesterday as 200 health experts met under the auspices of the World Health Organisation (WHO) to discuss how to end the world’s worst-ever outbreak of the killer virus.
No fully tested and approved treatments or vaccines exist for Ebola, which has killed more than 1,900 people in West Africa since the beginning of the year.
In a bid to stem the epidemic, the World Health Organization has condoned the use of experimental drugs, and experts in Geneva were discussing which treatments were in the pipeline and how quickly they could be made available to the public.
In a working document for the closed-door meeting, the UN health agency listed eight potential therapies, including the experimental drug ZMapp, which has been given to a handful of frontline health workers who have contracted Ebola, three of whom have recovered, and two of whom have died.
Two experimental vaccines for Ebola, which transmits through contact with infected bodily fluids, were also listed.
“None is clinically proven,” WHO stressed in its working document, adding that “while extraordinary measures are now in place to accelerate the pace of clinical trials, new treatments or vaccines are not expected for widespread use before the end of 2014.
“Until then, only small quantities of up to a few… doses/treatments will be available,” it said, pointing out that in normal circumstances, the clinical evaluation period for new drugs and vaccines can take up to a decade.
The experts meeting yesterday, including policy makers, ethicists, clinicians, researchers and patient representatives from affected countries, also aimed to facilitate contacts between countries affected by the disease and countries producing treatments.
Global health experts have stepped up warnings in recent days that world leaders need to do more to address the epidemic, which is most prominent in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
“The current west African Ebola outbreak is unprecedented in size, complexity and the strain it has imposed on health systems,” WHO said in a statement.
“There is intense public interest in, and demand for, anything that offers hope of definitive treatment.”
90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”
We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.
Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW
Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.
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