Eradicating Ebola: One of my greatest achievements, says former NMA chairman

Eradicating Ebola: One of my greatest achievements, says former NMA chairman
United Bank for Africa

A medical doctor, Dr Tope Ojo, says that one of his greatest professional achievements was being on the team that saw to the eradication of Ebola in 2014.

Ojo was the immediate past chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Lagos Chapter.

He disclosed this to our correspondent during activities marking his 50th birthday celebration late on Sunday at Ojota, Lagos State.

According to him, he dedicates his birthday party to the emancipation of Nigerians from diseases, poverty, low standard of living and other unfavourable factors in the society.

“When I became the chairman of the NMA, there were many challenges facing the medical community but I was able to lead other doctors to surmount some of them.

“For example, it was a great achievement for me to be the head of the doctors in Lagos, who were able to succeed in the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).

He recalled that, “The Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo declared a new outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Bikoro in Equateur Province on May 8.

“The outbreak declaration occurred after laboratory results confirmed two cases of EVD.

“The country’s Ministry of Health had informed WHO that two out of five samples collected from five patients tested positive for EVD at the Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale (INRB) in Kinshasa.’’

Ojo said, “On our part, we should be more vigilant and sensitive; we should ensure that all our borders are not porous and people are properly screened.

“There is the need to be proactive, this is not the time to wait for it to enter the country before we start running around.

“We should, if possible, start the sensitisation of the publics from now,’’ Ojo said.

He also said that his leadership of the association ensured that casualisation of workers was abolished.

“Casualisation simply means giving casual employment to doctors who were below 50 years of age,” he said.

The doctor said that he was sad at the ongoing Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) strike which he attributed to be a product of an underdeveloped economy.

“Today is a day of sober reflection for me because I will have loved to see a Nigeria to be among the League of Nations that is making progress in every aspect of life.

“An economy that is well developed will be void of incessant demands by unions up to the extent of going on strike to force the government to meet their needs.

“When a group of workers are demanding certain things from their employers, it shows that their aspirations have not been met, whether they are doctors or professionals in other sectors.

“We are looking forward to a situation whereby, all what JOHESU members are agitating for now will be resolved positively,” he said.

Ojo said that the state of health infrastructure was far from standard which was evident in our political leaders travelling abroad for personal medical checkup.

He also advised Nigerians to be proactive in putting in place measures to guard against the resurgence of Ebola in the country.

Also, Dr Afolabi Akinkunmi, a past president of the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), felicitated with Ojo and commended his strengths.

According to him, in spite of his being young, Ojo is dogged, vibrant and has contributed so much to the actualisation of some of the “struggles” and expectations of doctors.

“While he was the NMA chairman, he was very instrumental to the recall of some of the medical doctors sacked by the Lagos State Government (LASG).

“Also, Ojo ensured that during the Ebola crisis of 2014, doctors aligned with a plan to roll out public sensitisation to contain and prevent the virus.

“There were enlightenment campaigns against Ebola virus and several volunteer doctors were on ground to tackle it,’’ he said.

On the re-insurgence of EVD in Africa and its possible threats to Nigeria, Akinkunmi urged Nigerians to be careful with their personal hygiene.

“There are indications that EVD is present in some neighbouring West African countries.

“All airports and seaports in Nigeria should be alert placed on the alert and ensure that visitors coming into the country are screened against the EVD.

“The call for caution is to ensure that what happened the last time the virus came ‘visiting’ Africa and crept into Nigeria should not happen again

“The authorities should ensure that immigrants are properly screened and declared free of EVD before coming into the country.

“Nigerians should be careful when coming in contact with people; we should learn to wash our hands regularly, be careful with rodents and maintain good hygiene.

“People should make use of the closest healthcare centre to them for evaluation at the slightest feeling of ill health,” the doctor said.

Mrs Kemi Bello, a member of the NMA and friend of the celebrant, said that she was impressed with the achievements of Ojo in the medical field.

Bello advised other profession colleagues to emulate Ojo’s strengths and appreciate his contributions in the quest for a better health service and improved working conditions of medical practitioners in the country.