Ebola: Be on alert, Senate tells FG, seeks end to JOHESU strike

Following the World Health Organisation’s declaration that Nigeria and other African countries are at risk of Ebola virus outbreak, the Senate, yesterday, urged the Joint Health Sector Union to call off its over three weeks’ strike to “enable Nigeria be on the alert.” Specifically, it charged the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, to ensure alertness to combat whatever cases that might arise and get Ebola vaccines ready for any emergency situation. It also urged the Minister of Interior, Lt.-Gen. AbdulRahman Danbazau, to take necessary steps to check travellers’ movement into the country. These were sequel to a motion moved to that effect by Senator Oluremi Tinubu (APC, Lagos Central).

Tinubu, in the motion titled, “Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Need to Take Precautionary Measures,” recalled that an infected immigrant, Mr. Patrick Sawyer, who arrived in Nigeria in July 23, 2014, was notable for being the index case for the introduction of Ebola virus into Nigeria. She noted that recent reports by WHO showed that the disease was back in neighbouring Congo with 19 deaths and 39 infected casualties recorded so far.

“The World Health Organisation states that Nigeria and other African countries are at risk of spread. Unless hospitals are prepared properly and equipped with Ebola vaccines, it would be an epidemic Nigeria might be unable to take on,” she said.

Contributing, the Chief Whip, Olusola Adeyeye (APC, Osun Central), urged the Senate to intervene and resolve the on-going strike by the country’s health workers. In his contribution, Victor Umeh (APGA, Anambra Central), said alarm raised by Tinubu on Ebola via the motion was timely “because prevention is better than cure as Ebola dealt a terrible blow on the country in recent past, with the loss of medical personnel and some other people.” “We have seen how lives are being lost in Angola.

It is important that Nigeria is proactive on measures to be taken so as not to be caught unaware about the possible outbreak of the endemic Ebola virus,” he said. Also, James Manager (PDP Delta South) described the motion as “a wake-up call” for everybody in the country on the virus in particular, and for the government to be at alert, noting that “Ebola is a dangerous disease that had ravaged Nigeria in the past whereby it killed some people.” “Nigeria must be well prepared this time around against the outbreak of Ebola because prevention is far better than cure,” he said. In his remarks, President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, said all stakeholders must ensure adequate steps were taken to forestall any occurrence.

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