A group of Igbo entrepreneurs in Lagos, Igbos In Commerce (IIC), has commended Lagos State governor Babatunde Fashola for not only leading the “heroic and successful effort” to contain the Ebola virus disease (EVD) which erupted in Nigeria last July but also going “beyond the call of duty to support First Consultants Medical Centre” in Obalande, Lagos, where a Liberian-American, Patrick Sawyer, who brought the disease to the country was treated and died.
IIC in a statement Sunday in Lagos signed by its president, Sir Nnamdi Nwigwe, praised Fashola as well as the Lagos State commissioner for health, Dr Jide Idris, for cutting short their separate overseas trips on learning from First Consultants hospital that Mr Sawyer was being suspected of importing the dreaded disease which has been ravaging Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
“These two gentlemen discharged leadership responsibilities in an emergency situation,” noted the group, “and quickly set up an isolation centre at Yaba where the victims were treated.
“Though Dr Stella Ameyoh Adadevoh, Dr Amos Abaniwo, Nurse Justina Egelonu, Nurse and aide Evelyn Ukoh of the First Consultants Medical Centre who had contact with the index case could not survive the highly infectious disease, Dr Morris Ibeawuchi, Dr Adaora Igonoh, Dr Fadipe Akanniyi, Mr Dennis Echelonu, Mrs Kelechi Enemuoh and many others did survive it following extensive treatment at the isolation centre in Yaba which the Lagos State built within days.”
The businessmen and women recalled that the centre was so effective that patients were brought from different parts of the country to it.
The group observed that despite the fact that the patients have been well treated and the scourge effectively contained, there is still discrimination against the victims by even family members and friends who should rather show solidarity with them at a time of great need.
The entrepreneurs, therefore, praised Governor Fashola for receiving all the former Ebola patients in his office on September 18 in the presence of the secretary to the state government, and other top government functionaries, saying that the visit did help to end the stigmatization of “these conscientious healthcare professionals who did everything within their power to save Mr Sawyer and stop the spread of the deadly virus in Nigeria”.
They also commended the governor for visiting the hospital on September 21 in an effort to restore public confidence in it.
“We regret the fact that though the First Consultants Medical centre, a foremost hospital in the country, has been de-contaminated under the World Health Organisation (WHO), with the entire sewage system overhauled and all the humans and equipment thoroughly checked, some people and organizations are still afraid and have yet to return to it long after it has been re-opened”,
“This is why we specially commend the governor for his visit which was aimed to boost the morale of the management and staff of the hospital and restore public confidence in the medical facility”.
Sir Nwigwe, who is a top official of Ndigbo Lagos, advised the federal government officials, including ministers and senators, to visit First Consultants Medical Centre to see things for themselves “because it was this hospital which started the successful campaign to check the spread of the Ebola scourge even at great costs to itself.”
IIC also decried what it called the nonchalant attitude of Ohaneze Ndigbo, the apex socio-cultural organization, and Southeast governors to the hospital’s predicament.
“We are surprised,” said Nwigwe, whose wife is a medical doctor, “that no official of Ohaneze Ndigbo or official of the Conference of Southeast Governors or any Igbo leader of any significance has bothered to contact First Consultants Medical Centre in its hour of great trial and tribulation, even though that most of the EVD victims were Igbo, like Dr Benjy Ohieri, founder of the hospital who has remained its chief medical consultant.
“The Igbo people, especially their leaders, have yet to learn how to take care of their own, as the Americans, the Europeans and the Jews do.
“So far, we have abandoned Dr Ohaeri, the staff and management of First Consultants Medical Centre to Gov Fashola of Lagos State who has mercifully risen to the challenge like a true nationalist.”