Hey everyone, earlier in the week, I posted an article that the terror that Ebola has brought upon Nigerians here. Today, I have some update on the Ebola outbreak in the country (Nigeria) and other affected countries (Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone). Amazingly, some people are still so disbelieving. Even in Liberia where the number of deaths are in the hundreds approaching a thousand now. Some other people are still making fun of it, others are doing more businesses and many people haven't adopted basic precautionary measure necessary for daily living in this situation. Many are still travelling within states despite their state of health.
First of all, medical doctors from every part of Nigeria gathered to have a conference in Ibadan in the last 2 days. We were all bothered about having such a gathering of doctors at such a time. We expressed our concerns and took measures like not shaking hands. Even the caterers were made to wear gloves as they served our food (good measure). This morning, my colleague received a call from one of the orderlies in the hospital asking if it was right for her to bathe with salt and water as a prevention to contracting the Ebola virus. She said it was the information she got from family members. She was reassured and told to bathe with normal soap and water. Then, the text started rolling in; I actually got 3 different versions of the story. This is how it went:
- I don't know how true this information is for prevention of Ebola virus: 1) Bathe with hot water mixed with salt. 2) Drink hot water with little quantity of salt. 3) Eat bitter kola.This should be your regular therapy. Send this to those you cherish. Prevention is better than cure.
- I got this from a contact. I have not verified it. FG fumigated the country early hours of today for Ebola, so you have been advised to boil hot water and salt for bathing to prevent negative effect. I know there is no harm in bathing with salt water. Just do it to be on the safe side.
- A third version of the story was to allow the water dry on your body after bathing.
Soon after the message started circulating, these photos also hit the media. Not sure where the Ebola salt came from. Whether it was the work of a graphic designer or actually a product in the market.
Many people stupidly followed the advice of bathing and drinking salt water. What do you expect in a country like Nigeria where the people in charge of disseminating the proper information and protecting the masses aren't doing their job properly. The ignorance of the masses makes even more difficult. The messages above are saying "just do it, there is no harm". What happens to the hypertensive patient that drinks this salt water? By midday, the few people I know that don't take every information 'hook, line and sinker, fisherman and boat' were so pissed they began to circulate their own messages like why not add pepper and onions. Others said focus more on God. Soon after, the intelligent ones started circulating their own messages, my friend showed me a link she got on her blackberry. A lady was owning up to be the one who started circulating the salt and water story. She said she started it as a prank amongst her friends and then she apologized that she didn't mean to harm anyone. I can imagine what the consequences of her actions would have caused her if she was in a more civilized society. I'm almost certain that someone would have filed a lawsuit against her for spreading such rumors.
The picture below is one I got from a fellow doctor, Dr Ebele at the conference. I must commend the federal ministry of health for making some efforts at least in enlightening the public. I just hope these posters weren't printed in only pidgin English. Why? you may ask. Let me explain. Of what use is a poster written in pidgin English to the illiterate Nigerian? They are afterall, the target audience for the poster, aren't they? Tell me, can a person who can't read English, read pidgin English? Pidgin English isn't taught in any school curriculum like many other Nigerian languages like Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa, Bini e.t.c. The target population would benefit more from verbal information passed to them on radio or television, grass-root campaigns shouldn't be limited only to politics. At a time like this, the illiterate and ignorant population need these rallies more than the elite would can easily access information on the internet using their many smart phones. I hope the ministry gets this message and do better if they haven't done so already.
To make matters worse, information reaching me this evening, says that they now have suspected cases of Ebola viral disease in NNPC clinic, Lagos and Garki hospital, Abuja. A source close to the hospital informed me that those that came in contact with the patients were allowed home after blood samples were collected from them and sent to Lagos for testing. I begin to wonder why? Is it so that they can go home and infect their family members if they turn out to be infected? So, everyone, if you think it's good enough to go ahead making fun and spreading rumors about this problem, think again. Imagine the devastation it would cause if it finds its way into Northern Nigeria. The video below shows that many people in Liberia still think it's a scam.
Wise up Naija! Nigerians please be more sensible. This is not a joke at all.