Federal Ministry of Health
Federal Ministry of Health

The last batch of Nigerian volunteers deployed to help fight the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Sierra Leone and Liberia have returned. A group of seven volunteers returned on Monday 28/9/2015, while the last group of four arrived today, Tuesday 29/9/2015.

The volunteers were received at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport Abuja, by the Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Health, Mr. Linus Awute, and other senior officials of the Ministry. Speaking at a brief airport reception, the Permanent Secretary praised the commitment and dedication of the volunteers. The Permanent Secretary, who was represented by the Director Ports Health Services, Dr. Sani Gwarzo, described the volunteers as “national heroes” and thanked them for being good ambassadors of their fatherland. He appealed to Nigerians to give them all the support as well as the recognition they deserve.

Mr. Awute recalled that in the spirit of African brotherhood, two hundred and four (204) volunteers were deployed to two countries plagued by the Ebola Virus Disease in the sub region in December 2014 to support containment efforts under the umbrella of the African Union Support to Ebola Outbreak in West Africa, (ASEOWA.) He remarked that Nigeria contributed the highest number of medical personnel to ASEOWA.

The Permanent Secretary also disclosed that one hundred and eighty-eight (188) Nigerian volunteers had returned in May this year and with the return of the last batch from Sierra Leone and Liberia, the programme has been brought to an end.

He informed that no Nigerian volunteer was infected with the Ebola Virus Disease and said that he was happy that all of them have come back safety. He also said that the returnee volunteers would be accommodated, and in line with the health protocol, they would be screened and monitored for 21days before they could be officially certified.

Earlier, the National Coordinator of the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) Prof. Abudaslami Nasidi, who was represented by Dr. John Oladejo, appreciated the professionalism of the volunteers. He said that their details are going to be captured in the data base of the Nigeria Center for Disease Control and anytime their skills or expertise are required, they would be called upon.

One of the returnee volunteers, Mr. Womi Oboma Eteng, stated that he coordinated the Ebola data unit for the mission in Sierra Leone. In recalling the Ebola fatality figures, he stated that they were initially very high, averaging three hundred (300) deaths weekly in Sierra Leone. He however said that the situation had improved drastically and enthused that Nigerian volunteers were glad to be part of the success story.

It will be recalled that Nigeria’s ability to speedily contain the Ebola Virus Disease when it was imported into the country last year has received national and international commendation. However, the Permanent Secretary, FMOH has cautioned that even though the country has been certified Ebola free by the World Health Organization, it still stands at risk from the virus if neighbouring African countries are affected by the scourge. He has urged Nigerians to continue to maintain good hygiene, especially the habit of regular hand washing.

Ezeaja Ikem
For: Director Press & Public Relations