What could cause another postponement?
I AM no politician. I have not even decided on who to vote for as my next president. As events unfold, I am sure I will be decisive by the eve of the proposed election date. But then, a part of me as a young scientist keeps wondering: What could possibly take off the minds of Nigerians from the desperation for change? Either in the parlance of having the current government turn a new leaf for a fresh start – by overhauling agendas and reforms that have not impressed the average Nigerian; or in the light of moving with the fierce ‘change’ campaign train of the opposition – either way, I think we all should take a break.
While West Africa and the entire world is recovering from the dusk of the global pandemic that could have turned into a Zombie Apocalypse, we seem to have forgotten that we missed having a large scale epidemic in Nigeria by the whiskers. We may attribute our success to having coordinated a vibrant and active temporary public health system in the Ebola epidemic control, we still had a fatality of about 50% from total cases recorded. But the truth is, at the time of the viral insurgence, what could have been the curse of a failed system may have been a blessing in disguise. Just imagine Patrick Sawyer checked into the GOPD at LUTH – seeking medical assistance from Liberia, which had barely 150 doctors to cater for four million people? Good Lord, our doctors were on strike, and a bunch of them were even summarily dismissed (though re-absorbed later) while their industrial action was ongoing. It could have indeed been a Zombie Apocalypse for Nigeria at that time with cases tolling in their tens of thousands.
Working with a few scientists who risked their lives during the epidemic, I was also at arm’s length of the positive samples received during the outbreak while we validated rapid screening kits that may help to prevent a re-entry of the virus from our ports of entry, or from a communicable insurgence from animal reservoirs in our local communities – as scientific findings have shown even in Nigeria. Now that some of our health workers are being mobilized by the African Union to go help at active Ebola camps in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone which is a great cause, we may be open to newer risks in the near future, and I really hope our previous testimonial will still hold its proof.
Till the last probable case has been dismissed in Guinea or Sierra Leone, and those countries are later declared Ebola free for another six weeks following the discharge of their last case; I do not think any neighbouring country in West Africa should heave a sigh of relief yet. Resources should still be funneled into bio-surveillance and preventive control at our ports of entry and game-reserves with possible active Ebola reservoirs.
Back to the politics of the day, while we pray to have a sustained record as a WHO-certified Ebola-free country; if a single suspected case of Ebola re-surfaces at any location in Nigeria, then we may be having another six weeks break from the almost deafening campaigns of change and continuity from the right and left wings of the political aisle respectively. So let’s be safe!
•Olumide together with some Nigerian scientists created Rapid Response Ebola Test. He is an alumnus of Florida Atlantic University, and currently the President of Eurekan Biotechnologies. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org