Thanks to Lucie Lecomte for sending the link to this report in The Telegraph: Why I fear the Ebola virus threat in Lagos. Excerpt:
Discussions between ordinary Lagosians are now centred around the gravity of the threat and people are voicing concerns on how Nigeria would cope were the virus to become pandemic.
Our mediocre, ill-equipped healthcare system hardly gives much cause for confidence. Nor the fact that doctors in state run hospitals happen to be currently on strike.
Hygiene practices in most public hospitals also leave much to be desired and there is a lack of basic equipment. For example, it is not unusual for gloves to be rationed in public hospitals.
And in a congested city like Lagos where housing is scarce and people often live in cramped spaces, it is all too easy to imagine such a highly-infectious disease spreading rapidly.
Furthermore, preventing an epidemic is not easy in a place where many people who might suddenly feel ill do not have cars, cannot afford taxis or ambulances (which are mostly private and expensive), and would likely have to resort to being transported to a hospital via public transportation, thus potentially endangering others.
Such scenarios do not bear thinking about as our public buses are most times overcrowded in humid, cramped conditions.
Added to that is the possibility of undetected cases. Many Nigerians do not visit hospitals when ill for a variety of reasons - ranging from financial to a proclivity for self medication or in some cases, a preference for traditional medicine.
There is a danger in the fact that the early symptoms of the deadly ebola virus are similar to that of malaria, a very common illness in Nigeria for which people usually simply buy over the counter drugs from the nearest pharmacy. Malaria is as common here as the flu is in Europe so people hardly think of visiting a doctor whenever they experience malaria-like symptoms.