Before we embarrass ourselves like the Egyptian Government that exposed the depth of their ignorance, and Africa to ridicule yet again by ordering the slaughtering all the pigs in their county...
We appeal to our Government to get its act together and give correct and coherent advice to the Nigerian people on the new H1N1 virus, that emerged from Mexico.
As we have said severally on this blog, as long as there is no central agency to organise infectious disease surveillance and outbreak control, we will have to continue fumbling through these incidents.
Our government needs to act responsibily and seek the best advice from the best possible sources and advise its citizens.
The 2 objectives have to be:
1. To mitigate the public health risk.
2. To manage public anxiety.
Both these are equally important and one will not work without the other.
Reports like these in the papers show an emerging ignorance on the key issues:
Vanguard: Nigeria swine flu-free — Minister of Health Prof. Osotimehin
How does he know this??? (assuming he was quoted directly). Nigeria does NOT have the laboratory capacity to diagnose this new virus. Thats a fact you can quote us on. Even if it did...the only reason there are no cases in Nigeria would be that there are no direct flights to Mexico, and travel between Nigeria and Mexico is minimal. Once there is significant community spread in countries with significant air travel to Nigeria, transmission in Nigeria becomes inevitable.
Thisday: FG Orders Aircraft, Ships Clean-Up On Arrival - Minister of Environment Mr. John Odey
This requires no further comment and just exposes the depth of ignorance on the problems we face.
Most of the public health workforce around the world is working flat out to mitigate the impacts of this virus, as the world faces several other problems. Governments are launching proactive programmes daily to advise their populations on what to do, how to do it and when to do it.
We might yet stop its spread. But at this point in time...we simply do not know that. Any responsible government will be at its highest possible level of preparedness.
Does anyone remember what happened after the explosion at the Ikeja Miltary Cantonement on the 27th of January 2002? 90% of the estimated 1100 Nigerians that lost their lives, died not from the explosion but from the ensuing anxiety that led to people drowning in a canal while trying to "escape". Have lessons been learnt? Only time will tell...
Please if you have access to those that make policy, do your country a favour and bring this to their attention, and push them to act.