Baylor College of Medicine recently engaged in the training of healthcare professionals, as well as non-medical personnel, about the basics on Ebola and on dealing with patients suffering from the disease in Africa. Almost 1,500 practitioners were sent to two Nigerian cities, in which they were trained for four days, in mid-September. The training was supported by the oil and gas company ExxonMobil, which also operates in the country, and comes as the spread of Ebola continues to be a rising concern, with the second new U.S. patient infected by “patient zero” confirmed in Dallas today.
In Lagos, the most populous city in Africa and Eket and an industrial city, the training included the presentation of the disease for non-medical professionals, and ways to protect against Ebola. In addition, the health care providers attended a presentation about the methods of preventing the spread of the disease, as well as patient care and protection against the infection while providing health care. All of the trainees also received instruction on appropriate personal protective equipment and its usage.
The physician leader and associate professor of medicine and emergency medicine at Baylor, Bobby Kapur, reported that the experience revealed the situation in Nigeria was similar to the one in the United States, since it was a single traveler who went from Liberia to Nigeria that first transported Ebola to the country. “Nigeria showed that if you respond quickly and begin public health measures, you can limit spread of the disease and its impact. They did a good job of that,” he said.
However, Kapur also noted that there are still some problems in the region, since there are patients who were exposed to Ebola and did not understand the risk factors, leading to the spread of the disease, including a doctor who contracted it. Kapur also believes in the importance of health messaging. “If there is fear or stigma around a disease, patients refuse to reveal symptoms or exposure,” he said.
There are still Nigerian hospitals that do not accept patients experiencing fever, as they fear that other patients will be scared to go there and it would affect their capacity to operate. There was a limited number of cases of Ebola in Nigeria, and it was designated as contained at the beginning of the month. Moreover, there was a low mortality rate (36 percent) for those who contracted the disease in Nigeria compared to other West African countries.
“It is important if you have symptoms to get treatment,” Kapur added. “Self-screening is also important. That includes fever, associated symptoms and a risk factor, such as coming from or having recently visited one of the affected countries.” The work being conducted in Nigeria is similar to that in the United States, as explained by the physician.
In addition to Kapur, the team, which was guided by local officials at the University of Lagos Medical School, included Dr. Olutoyin Asojo, associate professor of pediatrics, Dr. Sarah Bezek, assistant professor of medicine — emergency medicine, Dr. Mark Escott, assistant professor of medicine — emergency medicine, Dr. Silpa Gadiraju, assistant professor of medicine — emergency medicine, and Laura Vinas Jahn.
“The audience already had a good understanding of the disease. There were few questions about myths or misinformation about the disease,” said Jahn. “The level of collaboration among the Nigerian Health Ministry, the CDC, and private enterprise was impressive. Their proactive efforts serve as a model for quick containment of a potentially devastating public health emergency. For our part, we were privileged to support broad awareness efforts aimed at promoting prevention and dispelling fear.”
Texas facilities has been dedicated to fight the spread of Ebola worldwide. Recently, Governor Perry visited The University of Texas Medical Branch to review the work being done by the Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response, which was established to study and fight the pandemic disease.