Ebola: Lagos Govt Warns Against Stigmatization of Survivors,Contacts



Lagos State Government on Tuesday warned residents against stigmatizing survivors of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) or those placed under surveillance .

The state's Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris gave the warning while briefing newsmen on the efforts of the government to contain the virus.

He said the government had received complaints of stigmatization from some of those who had been treated of the virus, as well as from contacts under surveillance.

Idris explained that the complaints ranged from eviction from accommodation,sack and suspension from work. The commissioner said that two survivors who had been disengaged by their employers had petitioned the state government ,seeking redress.

The commissioner warned that the state government would take legal actions against those culpable of the practice, even as he said it was doing its best to re-integrate Ebola survivors into the society.

He said, “The social problem being faced by discharged cases has been reported severally. This ranges from stigmatization, eviction from their accommodation, being asked to stay away from work and termination of employment.

"We’ve had cases of employers just terminating the employment of their staff who were just mere contacts, not even suspected cases. We believe this is unfair and we feel this impedes on their fundamental human rights.

"One thing I want to emphasize again is that the Ministry of Justice will take the matter up. Anybody, whether a discharged patient or a contact followed up, who feels stigmatized, can petition the Ministry of Justice and the Attorney General of Lagos State and they would take that matter up on their behalf because it is not fair and it is not right. ,”he said.

Idris said stigmatization of survivors and contacts undermined the fight against the disease, and it has discouraged those with suspected symptoms from coming out for help.

He appealed to residents of the state to join efforts with the government to ensure that all cases and contacts that had been given a clean bill of health were reintegrated into the society The commissioner said a total of 366 contacts had been traced since July 22, explaining that only 19 of these contacts were yet to conclude the 21-day surveillance.

On the First Consultants Hospital, where the first case was recorded, the commissioner revealed that the facility had been decontaminated and also certified to reopen for business.

He said, “We urge those who use the First Consultants Hospital to support them; it remains a flagship medical centre. They have been given a clean bill of health..

He said the state government was doing its best to contain the spread of the virus, and stressed that the disease would be defeated faster through collective efforts. He urged residents not create panic about the disease but take the right precautions against it.

Listing some of the precautions, the commissioner advised against unprotected contacts with corpses, monkeys, bats and other things traced to the Ebola Virus.

The commissioner also urged residents to avoid contacts with people gravely ill from Ebola , advising them to always report people with suspected cases for the right intervention. Idris stressed that contracting Ebola virus was not a death sentence as people could still survive it, if attended to early.

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