Ebola Outbreak: Nigeria Sets Up Preparedness Working Group



Martins Ifijeh

As part of Nigeria’s immediate response to the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), in an emergency meeting yesterday, set up the Ebola Preparedness Working Group (EPWG).

The working group, will among other things lead on the coordination of the immediate risk assessment of the situation in DRC and coordinate the strengthening of prevention and preparedness for any potential introduction of the virus into Nigeria.

In a statement made available to THISDAY, the Technical Adviser, Communications, NCDC, Dr. Lawal Bakare said the emergency meeting, which was chaired by the Chief Executive Officer, NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, had representatives from the Department of Public Health and Port Health Services of the Federal Ministry of Health, World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), US-Centers for Disease Control, the African Field Epidemiology Network and the University of Maryland Baltimore.

He said; “The risk of introduction of the Ebola virus into Nigeria is considered to be highest through its air and land borders. Therefore, Port Health Authorities have been advised to intensify existing screening procedures at all ports of entry with first responder teams being put on alert.

“In addition, there will be an increased focus on reinforcing principles of infection prevention and control to all healthcare workers across the country,” adding that, Nigeria’s response to Ebola in 2014 was recognised globally for its speed and efficiency,” he said.

According to him, NCDC and its partners will leverage on 2014 success in its preparedness to prevent, detect and respond to the unlikely situation of the introduction of the virus to Nigeria.

“WHO and other NCDC partners are committed to continued support to the country in its efforts to ensure its health security is protected. In the coming weeks, the NCDC led Ebola Preparedness Working Group will provide regular updates as necessary on the outbreak in the DRC and provide information on how to protect ourselves and our country from Ebola,” he said.