Nigeria Returns To 2014 Border Screenings Policy — With Ebola Re-Emerging In The Congo
May 16, 2017

This is, in truth, a very difficult time, in central Africa, from a public health policy perspective. Local in-country health ministers do not want to engender panic, but they also must move swiftly, given the severity of the situation. As you may see, at right, Nigeria does not even share a border-line with northern DRC — and the affected Bas-Uele Province, of the DRC. Even so, it is tightening its border entry procedures — in the same way it had, in 2014 — in the last sustained viral event. I suppose that is wise — but if the rest of Africa begins to clamp down, once again, the continent’s economy will shudder — from the effect of the clamp-down — without even one more live Ebola transmission, continent wide.

Moreover, thus far (as CIDRAP notes), the governing body of the World Health Organization has not authorized the use of the Merck vaccine candidate, though it has said if/when it does — it will be in a ring fashion — as it was deployed in the last outbreak (but was not ready until 2016).

I admit to being puzzled, about that. There are 300,000 doses at the ready. At least 10,000 of those should (in my view) already be on their way, inside the tertiary rings of contact, in Bas-Uele Province — even if reaching the rugged forested terrain in the far northern Congo is more than a bit of a challenge.

Refrigeration-equipped trucks (even if flown in by US military assistance) ought to already be rolling north, loaded with vaccine stock. [Under 44, they would already be. I cannot resist saying so — and noting that Mr. Trump will likely never say anything about this topic.] But back to the main topic — it seems to me that the moderate risk of some side effects is outweighed by the need to avoid another multi-year epidemic. I am hopeful the WHO Director General will say so, even later this week.

In any event, here is the Nigeria Tribune on it all, overnight:

. . . .Speaking during his visit to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, on Monday, Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, asked Nigerians not to panic, adding that the Federal Government remained committed to ensuring that the virus was not imported to the country. . . .

As part of the measures being put in place, the minister was at the airport to inspect thermal screening machines located at the port health stand. . . .

Onward, on a suddenly very warm and humid Spring morning. Be well, one and all. [Late last night, Cassini made a fourth ring plunge — around Saturn — drawing ever closer. . . to her twisting demise.]