Minister of health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, has revealed that Nigeria would be offering assistance to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the three worst-hit countries affected by the highly-contagious Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
Chkwu disclosed this in Abuja while receiving Mustapha Kaloko, the African Union (AU) commissioner for social affairs.
He said Nigeria would organise specialised training for nine field epidemiologists and six laboratory scientists across those countries.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) had commended Nigeria for effectively tackling the disease, urging it to extend assistance to other West African countries battling with Ebola.
New cases of Ebola have been recorded in the neighbouring countries, and the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has predicted that an estimated 550, 000 to 1 million people would have contracted the disease by January.
However, Chukwu said the decision of training the health workers is a federal government measure to assist the countries in containing the spread of EVD beyond their borders.
“It is our belief that unless the virus is contained in the most affected countries, Nigeria will continue to be at risk because of its policy of non-restriction of movement across the sub-region,” he said.
“I believe that Nigeria should help its neighbours to contain the scourge. But for now, we are focusing on helping to build the capacity of the health workers in those countries at our own cost. So, Nigeria will not rest until Ebola virus is completely tackled in West Africa.”
Chukwu said the federal government had procured drugs worth N50m to be donated to Sierra Leone as part of Nigeria’s contribution to curbing the virus in the West African country, adding that countries around the sub-region would be encouraged to train health workers to use Nigerian facilities to build a stronger network against common diseases.
He said plans were afoot to build the sub-region’s capacity to contain deadly diseases such as Ebola, HIV and Lassa fever.
He expressed optimism that West Africa would soon overcome Ebola, especially with the commitment of the countries to the sub-regional plan of action against the disease.
Responding, Kaloko noted that the virus had crippled the health system and economies of affected countries.
He commended Nigeria for playing a leadership role through the assistance, and urged governments in the sub-region to build stronger confidence in the health workers deployed to the three most afflicted countries.