Nigeria still at moderate risk of Ebola outbreak

Source(s): Guardian, the (NG)

By Chukwuma Muanya

Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu is a consultant epidemiologist and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). Ihekweazu in this exclusive interview with The Guardian said Nigeria is still at moderate risk of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) because of the ongoing epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo and that the country is already strengthening preparedness for another outbreak. 

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Climate change is becoming more drastic and it has health consequences. What are the consequences for Nigeria?

Climate change is a global problem for all countries. We are now experiencing higher temperatures than usual, across the world. Nigeria is a tropical country and what this means is that we will experience even hotter days. The health consequences of climate change are vast- directly and indirectly. There will be huge impact on the transmission dynamics of infectious diseases, which can have an impact both on human and animal health. Extremely high temperatures also contribute to the spread of respiratory diseases such as meningitis and vector borne diseases such as malaria and Lassa fever. We have also begun to experience increasing incidence of flood. This contributes to water-borne diseases such as cholera. There is also a potentially large and yet unknown impact on agriculture and the environment, which can all, affect health.

Nigeria, like several other countries, has to be better prepared to respond to the health effects of climate change. This emphasises the importance of strong collaboration across environmental and health sectors- one we have made progress in strengthening. One other critical area to focus on is research, as the impact of climate change is not fully understood.

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The Ebola situation in DRC is getting worse. Are you concerned?

The Ebola situation in DRC is worrisome as despite the use of a vaccine, the spread has continued. The conflict in the country has affected outbreak response, as dedicated health workers and treatment centres are being attacked. Although Nigeria is still at moderate risk as assessed by the World Health Organisation (WHO), we are strengthening our preparedness. In April, the West African Health Organisation supported us with three thermal screening cameras placed at the Abuja new terminal, Kano and Enugu airports. This is in addition to the cameras previously provided by the Dangote Foundation for screening at points of entry. We are better prepared for an Ebola outbreak than we were in 2014, and will continue to improve on this.

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