Ebola: Personal Hygiene Should Remain A Top Priority

This article is written by V-six Ejechi @Vsix_Ejechi and edited by Linus Okechukwu

…a smartly-dressed man of average height, who was wearing an air of professionalism around him, walked into one of the new generation banks in my school, and he was asked to go wash his hands with the soap and water provided at the entrance. Baffled, man blurted out: “Haven’t you heard in the news that Nigeria is now Ebola free?”

On Monday 20th of October 2014, World Health Organization (WHO) declared Nigeria free of any sign of the Ebola virus disease (EVD). It is obvious that the emergence of the deadly contagious disease in Nigeria on July 20th 2014, has utterly changed the lifestyle and socio-economic landscape of our dear country. This, I bet, is actuated by the ferocity of the spread and the considerable fear of Ebola.

Our sense of personal hygiene has heightened: many have adopted preventive measures, universities like UNIBEN had to provide soap and disinfected water for students to wash their hands before using the library.

“This is a spectacular success story that shows that Ebola can be contained,” W.H.O representative, Rui Gama Vaz said with an uplifting tone of optimism at a news conference held in the capital of Nigeria, Abuja on the 20th of October 2014.

The announcement came 42 days after the last reported infection in Nigeria. The mathematics is pretty simple: If there are no reported cases of the virus twice of the maximum incubation period of 21 days, then an affected country could be said to be free.

The virus brought about a paradigm shift in cleanliness. For one, it re-echoed and emphasized the significance of personal hygiene in the realm of national health especially for a country reputed to be averse to maintaining clean environment and requisite waste management.

After the declaration by WHO, Dr. John Egbuta, a consultant nutritionist with the United Nation, said Nigerian should sustain the fight against infectious diseases with good hygiene.

This is exactly the thrust of this article. Should we say because Nigeria is now free from Ebola virus we’d stop taking care of ourselves? We’d become carefree about the virus?  Or the necessity of hygiene?

Just like what happened last week in my school , University of Benin (UNIBEN), a smartly-dressed man of average height, who was wearing an air of professionalism around him, walked into one of the new generation banks in my school, and he was asked to go wash his hands with the soap and water provided at the entrance. Baffled, man blurted out: “Haven’t you heard in the news that Nigeria is now Ebola free?”

That got me thinking — so many of us wash our hands because we are afraid of the Ebola, not really because we understood the importance of the act. Shouldn’t that be common knowledge? Even in my school, they had to deploy security officers before at the entrance of the library to enforce the washing of hands. Pretty outrageous, you think; but it’s commonplace.

Dr. Egbute’s parting words are invaluable: “We should intensify our personal hygiene because the cleaner we are, the better we are able to sustain our level of fighting disease not just Ebola.”

Therefore, the culture of personal hygiene that the Ebola virus disease forced us to inculcate should not just stop after the declaration by WHO.
Meanwhile, I can’t but praised the intensive efforts put together by the federal and state governments in the fight to rid our country of Ebola. The outcome: it is a sign that we can win more if we join hands together for and with ourselves opposed to hauling damning criticism on ourselves. United we stand, as the cliché goes, divided we fall.

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