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‘We’re here as foot soldiers and not heroes’

- says Nigeria CDC boss

DECEMBER 8, 2014 Ibrahim Tarawallie

READY FOR WORK … medics from Nigeria arrive at the Freetown International Airport, Lungi
READY FOR WORK … medics from Nigeria arrive at the Freetown International Airport, Lungi

Director-General of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Nigeria Friday (December 5) stated that 100 Nigerian medics are in Sierra Leone not as heroes but foot soldiers to help in the eradication of the Ebola virus disease.

The medics will be stationed in northern Sierra Leone, which has two districts – Bombali and Port Loko – with some of the highest infection rates, 866 and 944 respectively.

Speaking at the Freetown International Airport shortly after the arrival of the medics, among whom are nurses, doctors and lab technicians, Professor Abdulsalami Nasidi said his team will be working and at the same time sharing experiences of how they defeated the Ebola virus.

“We came with experienced [medical staff] and field workers to help in the fight. Let me say that coordination is one of the strategies we used in our response to the disease,” Professor Nasidi disclosed and added that President Goodluck Jonathan had already given his blessing for 12 medicos from Sierra Leone to be trained by the CDC in Nigeria.

According to Professor Nasidi, who is also head of the team, authorities in Nigeria might have succeeded in defeating the virus, but stressed that Sierra Leone is ‘a different ball game’ and revealed their command structure will be factored into that of the African Union.

Also speaking, Nigerian High Commissioner to Sierra Leone, Her Excellency Gladys Modupeola Quist-Adebiyi, saluted the medics, who are in the country under the auspices of the AU, for volunteering to come and stem the spread of Ebola in Sierra Leone.

“We are happy to respond to the clarion call to come and kick Ebola out of Liberia and Sierra Leone as we did in Nigeria. These medics are both from the private and public sectors in Nigeria.
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Let me salute all of them for their courage because they left their jobs and families to come and make sure that they kick Ebola out of Africa,” Madam Quist-Adebiyi said and added that 95% of the medics participated actively in the eradication of the virus in Nigeria.

While appreciating efforts by Sierra Leonean medics in responding to the disease, the top Nigerian diplomat in Sierra Leone announced that should anyone of the medics contract the virus, they will be evacuated to either Lagos or Port Harcourt, which have state-of-the-earth facilities to treat Ebola patients.

First Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation, Foday Lahai Sawi, welcomed the medics on behalf of the government. He said: “This is a display of big brotherliness from Nigeria. They have given to us what we needed most in this fight.”

Statements were also made by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Corporation, Dr. Ebun Strasser-King and Team Leader of the AU Ebola Response team, Richard Ssekitoleko.

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