Ebola has been ravaging West Africa including our dear country Nigeria. More than 2,000 lives have been lost and the situation is still gloomy. Though Nigeria has demonstrated that it can effectively handle the outbreak (we are documenting how Lagos State and Federal authorities combined to effectively handle the situation as an example of good practice), no country in Africa is safe until we can stop the present outbreak. Indeed, in the case of our dear country Nigeria, we have our military serving under the UN in Liberia and are due for rotation back home soon.
Over the past three weeks, I’ve been at the forefront of designing the African Union’s concrete response to the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa. Although, the AU’s response might appear to be a bit late, we are responding at a time where there are serious human resources gaps and fatigue in the international efforts. We are putting together a Civil-Military Medical Mission to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea in the first instance and upon request to Nigeria. The mission is tagged AU Support to Ebola Outbreak in West Africa (ASEOWA). The first deployment of 30 medical personnel by ASEOWA to Liberia will take place by middle of the week, as the volunteers have begun to arrive in Addis Ababa this weekend for pre-departure briefings.
There has been an overwhelming response by individual Africans (including Nigerians) to African Union’s call for volunteers. However, we need more Epidemiologists, Clinicians, Lab Scientists, Public Health Specialists, and Nurses among others; particularly, from the Diaspora. I wish to assure potential Volunteers of adequate protection and safety. We have adequate supply of Personal Protection Equipment (PPEs) and materials with which to work.
For Volunteers based in the United States and Canada, I have concluded arrangements for training in the management of Ebola Treatment Units (ETU) to be conducted in Alabama by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Similar arrangement is being made with Medicine Sans Frontier (MSF) in Brussels for volunteers from Europe. This is in addition to Transition training that will take place on the field in Monrovia, Freetown and Conakry that we have arranged in collaboration with the WHO, CDC and MSF.
For more information about ASEOWA, I can be reached at my official email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Together, we shall stop the outbreak and defeat Ebola.
- Dr. Julius Oketta