Until July, 2014, Ebola must have sounded like an unrealistic virus to some Nigerians. Those that heard about the outbreak of the viral disease in Guinea and then Liberia never bothered to do a further research about it; after all, it was in Guinea and not Nigeria while some chose to deny its existence. Only few people took their time to find out about the disease and create awareness for it on social media networks, making it a point to forward information about the virus from WHO to people around them. I, for one, was not so bothered about it because I figured it was happening far away from Nigeria and we have nothing to worry about especially after unconfirmed and false news started flying about that it was already in Lagos. Someone even said maybe it was a ploy to distract the government from finding the missing girls. Let’s tackle boko haram and the missing girls and leave Ebola alone, the person said.
Welll, things changed when Patrick Sawyer visited Nigeria and the disease became very “real”. Everyone decided to take Ebola seriously. Some pople started taking every advice on how to counter the virus; even from untrustworthy sources and died through the process. There was the salt bath, kolanut consumption and some ignorantly went overboard out of fear of contacting the disease and did everything they heard. The sale of hand sanitizers, soaps, disinfectant was high and organisations made sure temperature was checked and your hand washed before you can be allowed inside. Even some politicians started using Ebola as a way to garner voters by making party-customised hand santizers (Smh). The sale of meat dropped and people became super conscious and cautious of their environments. I remember boarding a bus one time and the man seated beside was constantly shifting in his seat to avoid any form of contact with me. Nobody wan die. For the first time in my life, I witnessed Nigerians taking warnings from radio stations, television, newspapers very seriously. At that time, all that mattered was “Ebola must not catch me”. The government, impressively I must add, did everything they could to fight Ebola and gladly, we won.
On the 26th of October, World Health Organisation declared Nigeria free from Ebola after 42 days, which was twice the incubation period of the virus, a case of infection was last reported. People received the news with joy since it is the best thing that has happened to the country in a long time. The containment and eradication of Ebola spelt hope (if Nigeria, with a population so large, can contain Ebola, then we can get rid of corruption, terrorism, poverty and those things bad things people believe is a part and parcel of the country). But now that we have gotten rid of Ebola, Nigerians should not relax where personal hygiene is concerned. Don’t throw your hand sanitizers and soaps out the window just because there is no need for it anymore. Nigerians should realise that:
– Ebola is not the enemy, ignorance and negligence kills faster than any disease. You should always inquire from safe sources the different ways to stay healthy, safe and alive. Find out what’s good for you.
– Cleanliness is a key factor to a healthy life. Always make it a point to keep your environments clean. Work on your personal hygiene. Wash your hands with soap as much as you can, it kills the germs and bacteria you may have picked from touching something that may not even look dirty. Hand sanitizers also protect your from germs that may be harmful to your body.
– Never assume. Constant medical check up is good for you. Because it looks like fever doesn’t mean it is fever. Don’t indulge in self-diagnosis and then treat yourself with drugs purchased over the counter without proper diagnosis or prescription. Don’t take the place of your doctor, go to a hospital to be checked before it is too late
– Watch what you eat and drink, where you buy your food from especially those that are fond of eating out. Since we are not sure where these cooks get their raw products from or how well the clean them or cook them, it is safer to eat in your house even if all you can cook is noodles. Even house helps are not so safe anymore. Always be concerned about what you push down your throat. Food poisoning, diarrhea, dysentery are very real.
You owe it to yourself to live and enjoy a healthy life. What use is all the money you have when you spend it on hospital bills and drugs. Eat healthy, drink healthy, live healthy, stay healthy.