Dr. Stella Ameyo Adadevoh
While many West African countries are struggling with the spread of Ebola, Nigeria has been declared free of the disease by the World Health Organization (WHO) after six weeks without any new cases—a development that is being attributed to one physician and a team of volunteers, according to Reuters.
Dr. Stella Ameyo Adadevoh, of First Consultant Hospital in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, diagnosed the country’s first Ebola patient in July,according to The New York Times. Patrick Sawyer, an official in the Liberian ministry of finance, came to Lagos on a flight from Liberia with symptoms of the disease.
Adadevoh quickly noted his symptoms and advised that Sawyer be kept in isolation. Sawyer resisted, claiming that the hospital was denying him his rights, according to Dr. Benjamin Ohiaeri, the hospital’s director.
Ohiaeri told BBC, “Immediately he was very aggressive. He was more intent on leaving the hospital than anything else. He was screaming. He pulled his intravenous and spilled blood everywhere.”
Sawyer also lied about the severity of his symptoms, and the Liberian ambassador even accused them of kidnapping, but hospital officials resisted all efforts to release the patient.
Sawyer died on July 20, and Adadevoh and 11 other colleagues ended up contracting the disease.
Adadevoh passed away a month later, but, before her passing, she and others worked hard on tracing those person Sawyer had contact with, which consisted of volunteers going to 26,000 households, according to Reuters. CNN reports that Nigeria only had 19 Ebola cases, which resulted in eight deaths. The low numbers were praised at a news conference in Abuja, the Nigerian capital city, but it was still clear that work needed to be done.
Rui Gama Vaz, from the World Health Organization said, “This is a spectacular success story. It shows that Ebola can be contained, but we must be clear that we only won a battle, the war will only end when West Africa is also declared free of Ebola.”
That Nigeria has gone 42 days without a reported case is remarkable because it is twice the maximum incubation period of the deadly virus. WHO announced this year’s Ebola epidemic has been the worst on record with over 9,000 people contracting the disease and over 4,500 deaths. Even though the spread of the disease is declining, the organization has reported that the disease has spread to Guinea and the Ivory Coast.
Nigeria’s tremendous success story is being used as an example of how a country can successfully use surveillance, and how a supportive government works to stop the spread of the disease.
Alex Okoh, the director Nigeria’s port of health services, said the United States and other countries need to “put aside political barriers and focus on the issue at hand,” according to Reuters.