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When #Ebola Can Save a Life!

When #Ebola Can Save a Life!

The last two weeks have not been a beautiful one on the global map. The war in the Middle East and the gradual ravaging of lives in the West Africa sub-region are some of the ongoing challenges facing humanity.

The crisis in West Africa is fearful, especially as the World Health Organisation’s chief says, “Ebola is spreading faster than the effort to control it”. Nigeria has also shared a spotlight on the news stream about Ebola Virus Disease following the death of Mr. Patrick Sawyer, who had contracted the disease in Liberia. His primary contacts while en route and within the country (69 of them) are suspects. They would likely determine the fate of Nigeria and her citizens. If anything, no one wishes Nigeria this ill fate. On social media space, awareness about the deadly virus is strong enough. With two major hashtags – #Ebola and #EbolaOutbreak, the measures with which to prevent the virus is enjoying a viral spread.

The National Orientation Agency has also pushed out information in social media space. To the about 170 million population of the country and the more threatened 20 million residents of Lagos, this is not enough. The information seems to remain within the elite. The awareness is not enough for one to hear about #Ebola on every street turn. There are no elaborate measures in summer schools and homes where children now are now enjoying their holidays. Mallam Salisu in Kabala Doki, Kaduna perchance has yet to understand how one contracts the deadly virus. Chika, the vulcaniser on Independence Layout Road, Enugu still does not get the picture of what the virus is capable of doing.

It is to the credit of citizens of the global village on the netizens of Nigeria that a sort of awareness has been possible. While the effort of the government at containment may be decent, effort at awareness remains faint. The local airport in Lagos, for instance, has no message for the teeming population, who throng the place daily. It is sad that despite the knowledge of the disease, at least, in official quarters, a huge slip still happened; a corpse reportedly moved into the country and it ended in Oyi Council Area of Anambra State. That Nigeria knew of the threat of the virus in the West Africa region and still had no containment plans so much that the late Sawyer literally strolled into the country is bad enough.

News about bitter kola’s efficacy in taming the virus continues to grow in online space, I am sure the average seller of the nut would possibly wonder why there has been a relative surge in sales. I am not sure the government has come up with a clear position on this. The Internet can be a monster of catholic dimension occasionally – feeding to its users what is available without being mindful of the source. The private cyber initiatives offering infographics on prevention is brilliant and deserves commendation. carries information in an easy to read way. This is something the government should replicate and send to all places. Like the farmer in Modakeke Ife, I have yet to get a text message sponsored by the Ministry of Health with information in a local language about the Ebola disease. Like a number of others, I am scared at our somewhat flippant handling of the implication of a spread of this virus. This is however not to discountenance the effort of virologists and epidemiologists and other related committed hands who have hitherto been risking their health for ours. Lagos State stands tall in all of this and its request for a special state status needs a review. The state rose up to the occasion following Sawyer’s case. Its law on voluntary cremation also seems to have a touch of clairvoyance knowing a day like this would come. Bats, monkeys and other bush animals are known to be carriers of this virus. I am not sure there are words out there to places like Ile-Ife where the bat population is huge. It is still business as usual where they sell bush meat on a number of highways in Nigeria.

The preventive advisory has also included discontinuance of the consumption of grilled meat/Suya, especially since the source of the meat at times could be doubtful. Nothing has changed on the streets of Nigeria. Suya is still a premium meat. Knowing how poorly how the government value lives, it would be needless to inquire what the Nigerian Embassy in Sierra Leone and Liberia, two countries that have been hit by the lethal virus, has done to protect Nigerians in these countries. The United States has again shown to its citizens it can be counted on, following its evacuation of two sick Americans to a treatment isolation centre in the State of Georgia. It is not too much if a country where $10bn can get missing makes sanitisers available in most, if not all public places.

The report is that more than 1,300 people are infected and 700 dead in three countries in West Africa. As it is now, the ‘children of anger’ on social media need to continue contributing to save the country. We need to aid the government in finding how information on prevention can seep into rural communities. Meanwhile, may the soul of #DrSheikUmarKhan who gave his life protecting people from #Ebola scourge in #SierraLeone continue to rest in peace.

One more issue

Climbing for #DownSyndrome

If you have a relative with Down syndrome or someone suffering from the challenge, you will understand why it is an important issue. People with Down syndrome usually have an IQ (a measure of intelligence) in the mildly-to-moderately low range. They are also slower to speak than other children. People who suffer from Down syndrome are relegated, denigrated and stigmatised because of some retrogressive myth and tradition.

Between 16 and 23 August 2014, 10 African professionals will undertake a charity climb for to Uhuru summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, Kenya. Ultimately, the idea is to raise awareness about this and to raise funds for Nigeria’s Down Syndrome Foundation to continue its good work. Six people have been confirmed for the trip. See more discussions through #Climb4DS. also offers more information on this charity campaign.

Source - The Punch

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