Nigeria: Ebola Success Story


Response volunteers in Nigeria
CDC Global, via Flickr

Liz Waid and Adam Navis look at a success story about the Ebola crisis. The country of Nigeria was able to stop the epidemic. We look at their successful strategy.

Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2 

And I’m Adam Navis. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

It is July 20, 2014. A man sits in an airplane. He is flying from Liberia to Lagos, Nigeria. The man is shaking. He has a fever. Before getting on the plane at the airport, he was lying on the floor. He almost could not get on the plane. The other people in the plane are worried. Liberia is the center of a recent Ebola crisis. The Ebola virus has killed thousands of people. There is no cure. And 70% percent of people infected with the virus have died. So far, there have been no cases of Ebola in Nigeria. However, could this man be the first?

Voice 2 

Unfortunately, the answer was yes. The man did have Ebola. And he spread the virus to nearly 20 other people in Nigeria. But the story was not all bad. Nigeria was quick to act against Ebola. And the World Health Organization says that the international community can learn from Nigeria’s example. Today's Spotlight is on Nigeria’s fight against Ebola.

Voice 1 

When the airplane arrived in Lagos, an official took the sick man to a doctor. At the hospital, the man told health workers that he not been near anyone with Ebola. So, the medical workers did not wear protective coverings when they cared for him. Later, officials learned that the man's story was not true. His sister had died of Ebola. And now, he had it too. Five days after arriving in Nigeria, the man died. Later, four of the doctors and nurses who treated him also died. So did the man who drove him from the airport to the hospital.

Voice 2 

When medical officials confirmed Nigeria’s first cases of Ebola, many people were extremely worried. Nigeria has the largest population of any nation in Africa. And Lagos is the country’s largest city. Many people live close together, in large, poor areas. And thousands of people move in and out of Lagos every single day. Jeffery Hawkins is the United States Consul General for Nigeria. After officials announced Nigeria’s first case of Ebola, he said,

Voice 3 

"The last thing anyone in the world wants to hear is the two words, 'Ebola' and 'Lagos' in the same sentence."

Voice 1 

But, when doctors confirmed Ebola in Lagos, the Nigerian government acted immediately. It quickly closed schools and declared a national emergency. It immediately directed resources towards the fight against Ebola. Dr. Rui Vaz is the head of Nigeria’s World Health Organization office. When Ebola began to spread within Nigeria, he told officials,

Voice 4 

"All required resources must be immediately moved to stop this outbreak."

Voice 2  

The government set up an Emergency Operations Centre right away. The Centre provided a single place to organize the fight against Ebola. The government also used its existing health system resources. In the recent past, the health system in Nigeria has been busy fighting other serious diseases like Guinea Worm Disease and Polio. Health workers were able to use these same systems and resources to fight Ebola.

Voice 1  

But immediate action and existing systems were only part of Nigeria’s plan. The government also used many different forms of communication to educate people about Ebola.

First, the government used people to inform the public. Health workers went from house to house to talk about Ebola. The government also used trusted religious leaders to spread information. The country’s president, Goodluck Johnathan, appeared on television several times. And many of Nigeria’s famous film stars also talked about Ebola on television.

Voice 2  

Radio was also an effective tool in fighting the spread of Ebola. Messages were broadcast on local radio stations, in local languages, explaining the risks of Ebola. The Nigerian government also used the power of the internet. Nigeria has the 8th largest internet user population in the world. So, doctors and officials created websites like ebolalert.org and ebolafacts.com. They also used social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, to spread information very quickly. Lastly, Nigeria also recognized the importance of using mobile telephone technology. Almost all of Nigeria's population uses mobile telephone services. So, health experts used SMS messaging to send important information directly to people's telephones.

Voice 1  

However, one of the most important things Nigeria did to stop the spread of Ebola is called contact tracing. When a patient has Ebola, health workers separate that patient from other people. Ebola is spread through body fluids like diarrhea or vomit. So, this separation stops the patient from spreading the virus.

Voice 2  

But sometimes people spread the Ebola virus before they recognize that they have it. So health workers must find everyone who has had close contact with the patient. Often, these are people who have touched or cared for the patient. Nigerian health workers did this contact tracing for everyone infected with the virus in Nigeria. Through the process, they traced and observed 900 people! Every day, health workers took these people’s temperature and asked them about signs of Ebola. They did this for three weeks. After that, if the people had no signs of Ebola, health workers knew they did not have the disease.

Voice 1  

Quick action, good communication of information, and effective contact tracing helped stop Ebola in Nigeria. On October 20th, 2014, the World Health Organization announced that Nigeria was officially Ebola free. Nigeria was so effective in stopping Ebola that many other countries are now studying their methods.

Voice 2  

In the end, Nigeria had 19 cases of Ebola. Health workers discovered that all these cases came directly from the man on the plane from Liberia. Out of these 19 cases, 7 people died. This is a much lower death rate than the 70% in other countries fighting Ebola.

Voice 1  

Still, the country's health system remains ready for an emergency. They know it is possible that Ebola may enter the country again. Simon Mardel is a Global Health Advisor in Nigeria. He told the BBC,

Voice 5  

"The large size of this country makes it probable that they are going to get more cases."

Voice 2  

If Nigeria does get more cases of Ebola, they are prepared. And their example is helping the rest of the world to be prepared as well.

Voice 1  

The writer of this program was Jen Hawkins. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, “Nigeria: Ebola Success Story."

Voice 2  

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye!

Question:

How do you think governments can work to stop sicknesses from spreading?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
Mss Flamboyant
said on December 17, 2014

Nigeria’s health system acts rapidly and professionally which helps Nigeria control disease and helps this can not outbreak.

Avatar Spotlight
thanhdung07121985@gmail.com
said on February 27, 2015

nowaday,there are many dangerous disease speading out all over the world such as H5N1,Ebola…It kills thousand people in a short time.If we don’t discover and separate patients from other,this disease is easy to pread out faster.And the amount people getting disease will increase more.I think broadcasting immediately is very important.It help to inform fast to all people to know how to prevent and protect their health away from this disease.

Avatar Spotlight
Roderick
said on January 20, 2016

starting with control at the airports putting health workers to check the health of who arrive and who comes out of country