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Nigeria is Ebola-Free: 7 Steps America Can Take to Be Next

The World Health Organization declared Nigeria free of Ebola on Monday, Oct. 21 after the nation had no new cases in 42 days. Nigeria, the most populou...

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|Oct 21|magazine8 min read

The World Health Organization declared Nigeria free of Ebola on Monday, Oct. 21 after the nation had no new cases in 42 days.

Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, was considered to be free of the disease three months after it was introduced by a Liberian man who flew into Lagos, a city with a population of roughly 21 million people.

The virus has killed more than 4,500 in West Africa, but according to Nigerian Minister of Health Onyebuchi Chukwa, “it is possible to defeat Ebola,” he told TIME.

So what did Nigeria do to defeat the deadly disease? They reacted promptly, trained their health care workers and stifled fear. Here are the seven steps they followed to control Ebola that America can take note of.

1. Prepare Early

According to Chukwa and Dr. Faisal Shuaib of Nigeria’s Ebola Emergency Operation Center, officials immediately began training health care workers on how to manage the disease as soon as they knew a case in their nation was possible. They also disseminated information so everyone knew what to expect.

2. Declare an Emergency Right Away

Once the first Ebola case was confirmed in Nigeria, the government immediately declared a national public health emergency. In doing so, the Ministry of Health was able to form its Ebola Emergency Operations Center (EOC) that aided in the development of strategies, plans and the implementation of such plans to combat Ebola.

According to TIME, the EOC was in charge of identifying and monitoring individuals who may have come into contact with Ebola patients, the screening of all individuals arriving or departing the nation and communicating with the community.

3. Train Local Doctors

Nigerian doctors were trained by Doctors Without Borders and the World Health Organization (WHO).

4. Manage Fear

This is one strategy that America can definitely benefit from. In order to manage rumors about available cures and how you can contract the disease, the country took to social media to increase awareness efforts and publicize patients who were successfully treated and discharged.

5. Keep Borders Open

Nigeria kept its borders open to travelers from Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia as doing the opposite would reinforce panic and “the notion of helplessness,” said Shuaib. This also kept the economy in check as commercial activities were still able to continue.

6. Prepare for More Patients

Nigeria is still continuing to train and prepare for the possibility of an additional Ebola outbreak. According to Shuaib, outbreak response preparedness is a continuous process of which there is no alternative for.

7. Advocate for More International Response

“The global community needs to consistently come together, act as one in any public health emergency, whether it is Ebola or a natural disaster.” Shuaib told TIME.