Sunday, 6 March 2016

Ebola, viewed from the Lens of African Epidemiology

Musa Abubakar Kana1,2, OY Elegba3 , Jackie Obey4 , Faina Linkov5 , Eugene Shubnikov6 1 Department of Community Medicine, Kaduna State University, Nigeria 2 EPI Unit, Institute of Public Health, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal 3 Department of Medical Microbiology, Kaduna State University, Nigeria 4 Department of Medical Laboratory Sciences, University of Eastern Africa, Baraton, Kenya 5 Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, USA 6 Institute of Internal Medicine, Novosibirsk, Russia Corresponding author: Musa Abubakar Kana Faculty of Medicine Kaduna State University Kaduna Nigeria Telephone: +234-803-5909560 email: 2


The unprecedented Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa began suddenly in early 2014. This had dire consequences to the already weak health systems of the affected countries and worldwide transmission of fear in unaffected areas. This commentary aims to describe how our international group built the “Just in Time” Ebola educational lecture for global circulation, and how we in Africa viewed the Ebola outbreak by reviewing the occurrence, limited spread and containment in Nigeria. The evolution of the global interest on Ebola showed that there were three peaks. These peaks caused major spikes in public fear and interest in disease that surrounded each spike in disease rates. We recognized this problem and suggested that scientists are viewed typically as unbiased sources of knowledge. Thus our group created a lecture by summarizing the scientific facts published by global scientists and public health institutions. This educational module was prepared in a day, followed by translation of these modules into 13 languages in 2 days. It was then shared with the world, very rapidly through multiple electronic media channels, including email, websites, and social media sites. One of the intriguing findings in West Africa during the Ebola outbreak was that Nigeria, despite having the largest population in the region, was largely untouched by the epidemic, even when there were imported cases. The remarkable outcome in Nigeria has lent more evidence that the appropriate and timely application of preventive measures is effective in minimizing spread and reducing disease burden. Keywords: Ebola virus disease; Outbreak; Transmission; West Africa