August 15, 2014 – Health workers attending to patients infected with Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) at the Mainland Hospital, Yaba have threatened to stop work to protest allegations by relatives that the patients are not properly catered for.
There are five doctors and eight nurses attending to about 11 patients in Isolation at the centre apart from other workers.
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola made the revelation while addressing State House Correspondent in Lagos.
While appreciating role of the media in sensitizing the public about the risk and the precaution, the governor said that there was the need to exercise caution to avoid causing panic in the system.
“The report reaching me about two hours ago was that some of the health workers at the centre felt unappreciated and they decided to stop work because of the media reports that they were not working effectively to save the lives of the victims. We do not need that at the moment. While we sympathize with the victims, the health workers are doing their best to care for the victims.
“My appeal to the people is that more health workers should sign up and from what I was told by experts was that even if one is the best physician in the world, the person cannot enter the isolation ward. He or she has to be trained in how to kit up and how to get out of the centre and the training takes between five and seven days to achieve”, he said.
The governor explained that even if we have the full complement of the doctors signing up today, it is risky to put them inside the isolation centre without adequate training.
“People must understand the process required. And when it appears to the people that nothing was been done, it was because we are still building up capacity at the facility. We are better off today than 10 days ago. We know that it is complain that comes out of empathy but it is complain that does not focus on the reality of what is going”, the governor said.
He explained that Nigeria is going through a difficult period but that things are looking up on Ebola.
“This is not what we expected and it is not what we planned for and getting people who are sufficiently knowledgeable and skillful to go into the isolation centre is quite challenging. It is a matter of monumental courage for those people who have signed up and we commend them for that.
“There is personnel capacity issue of those who can go into the centre and care for the patients, in a way that they will not be infected by the virus. The Personally Protective Equipment, PPE, they use is very real so that they are protected.
“The issue we have now is that teams are working flat-out and therefore there will be no opportunity to segregate any patients. The issue that the patients were not treated and there was no water at the isolation centre it is not helpful but puts more pressure on the health workers”, he said.
He said that though the President has approved funds, the state is yet to get any.
“ At the moment, we are yet to receive any money what we have done is to work with our resources-the isolation centre and other facilities were done by our personnel working with officials of the federal health facilities in Lagos.
“This is not a money issue at the moment it is a personnel, control, and knowledge and system issue. It is only when we have put all these into place that we can now begin to say how much does it cost. It is not money issue. It is not the kind of money that Lagos State government cannot afford. Every help from the federal government will be useful. I think what is important is not the money but the fact that even President Goodluck Jonathan has shown some concern to call all the governors and commissioners of all the 36 states to get a full briefing on the risk, process and others.
“I think that is important and that is the kind of leadership that one will expect in this kind of circumstances. What we need at the moment is knowledgeable people that will join the team and contribute their quota to the fight against Ebola virus. This is like when a country is confronted by war the first set of people you contacts are the soldiers while in urban crime cases, the first people one needs are the policemen. This is the time for all the health workers who are specialist in this case to join us so that we can overcome this issue.”
He explained that there is however a silver lining.
“At the moment, 61 people have been certified negative and they have been freed. This is a virus that will run a maximum of 21 days what we must do is to come in early where people show some signs of illness to come in very early so that we can continue to hydrate them, give electrolyte balance so that their nervous system do not go into shock and wherever it is necessary to provide antibiotics for patients; and their body can fight the virus which in the event last no longer than 21 days.
“Aside the treatment for those who have full grown cases, the more important work is tracking all those who have had contact with them in order to know how far the virus has spread. It is when we have finally reach everyone that we can say that we have control over the virus from that place we can go back to sleep,” the governor said.