Monday, 1 September 2014
FG Summons Emergency Health Council Meeting
The federal government has summoned an emergency health council meeting, which comprises all state commissioners for health and the FCT in Abuja tomorrow.
Sources said this became necessary following the almost gradual “importation” of the Ebola virus disease in some states in the country, as the recent recorded cases in Port Harcourt have shown.
Meanwhile, this is the second emergency Health Council meeting to be summoned by the minister of health, Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu, within a month, following the earlier scheduled one-day meeting which held late into the night on August 11.
The minister of health had, on Wednesday last week, announced during a press briefing on Ebola update that the nation had successfully contained the virus.
However, the next day, Thursday, news broke that one of the primary contacts of the index case, Liberian-American Patrick Sawyer, had sneaked into Port Harcourt, despite being under surveillance, to get medical treatment.
But arising from its one-day emergency meeting on August 11, the National Health Council came out with a communiqué, which among others directed further engagement between the Federal Ministry of Health and states with peculiar security challenges, including Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Kano, Taraba and Yobe, to discuss challenges and proffer solutions to address Ebola.
The Port Health Services division of the Federal Ministry of Health was also directed to provide and ensure the implementation of guidelines for cross-border monitoring of EVD, particularly in riverine areas and states with international borders, and states that have riverine areas are to ensure the provision of boat ambulances suitable for EVD control.
State governments were asked to institutionalise communication strategy to ensure mass awareness creation and sensitisation for individuals and communities on EVD.
It also directed that particular attention should be paid to vulnerable groups such as market women and other women groups, patent medicine vendors, road transport workers, fishermen in the riverine areas, hunters and bush-meat sellers, school children, morticians and mortuary attendants, traditional healers and faith-based groups.
Though Council observed that emergency operations centres remained the responsibility of the federal government, it urged states to establish communication channels as necessary that will address general and peculiar needs in each state/FCT.
It also directed that the federal government should assist states to establish isolation tents that would cater for at least 20 people.
According to the communiqué, though ideally all corpses should be accompanied with death certificates, all states are to be encouraged to have legislation to support this resolution, while the corpses of all persons confirmed to have died of EVD must be buried according to standard WHO protocol.
It further directed that the transportation of corpses into Nigeria as well as inter-state transportation be banned until further notice except with approved waivers that may be issued by the Federal Ministry of Health.