The Ebola virus, a contact spread disease, was discovered in 1973 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since then, outbreaks have occurred throughout the continent. This includes the largest during 2014 and the most recent in the DRC. As of November 3, 2019, the death toll in the DRC was 2,185. Horrific symptoms, a 25% to 90% mortality rate, and death in as few as 6 days display how high of a priority prevention should be. The often fatal virus not only quickly devastates communities, but tragedy significantly intensifies when countries are not prepared, and communities are misinformed.
During the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreaks in West Africa, it swiftly became apparent that many regions were unprepared an ill-equipped to contain the epidemic. Nigeria avoided unnecessary tragedy thanks to the responsible actions of individuals such as Ameyo Adadevoh, a Nigerian physician who resisted foreign pressure to release patient zero prematurely. More leaders followed her action including many local, trained volunteers who enabled Nigeria to be declared Ebola-free by The World Health Organization in just 93 days from the original discovery of the disease. Nigeria’s quick recovery from the outbreak was thanks to the Nigerian Field Epidemiology Training Program, a CDC program that trains individuals to detect and prevent outbreaks. In Lagos, a strong FETP program remains, ready to address future threats. Despite official programs effectively combating outbreaks, local beliefs are obstacles for combating the spread of the virus. Contamination is frequently viewed as a frightening, metaphysical effect. During past outbreaks, cases of local religious leaders “healing” victims continually leads to everyday people fearing the enigma with Ebola instead of taking proactive steps to protect themselves.
Nigeria encourages the UN to increase the funding and resources being put into programs to quickly take action against current and future Ebola threats, as well as inform everyday people on the virus. Nigeria proposes the use of technology and social media to spread awareness and reduce stigma in communities throughout high-risk areas. Lastly, because of the importance of trust when foreign groups become involved in local matters, Nigeria further suggests the UN work with local leaders when taking these steps.
- Genevieve Woodby