8 August 2014

Nigeria: UNICEF, WHO Want Religious Leaders to Stop Rumours On Ebola Virus Infection

United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organisation (WHO) have appealed to religious leaders to disseminate correct information on Ebola virus to their members.

They made the appeal in Enugu on Friday at a one-day sensitisation meeting organised by the organisations for religious leaders in the state.

The Chief Field Officer of UNICEF, Mr Charles Nzuki, said the meeting was a good platform for creating awareness on prevention and fight against the virus.

Nzuki expressed concern over rumours that had been circulating about the disease and said religious leaders were at the fore-front to check the trend.

"We recognise the threat Ebola poses to women, children and men across Nigeria, we are committed to the collaboration with the government to prevent its spread.

"We solicit the support and commitment of religious leaders to ensure that every person is reached with the correct information about this virus," he said.

The South-East Zonal Coordinator of WHO, Dr Rosemary Onyibe, said the organisation would also take the sensitisation to the grassroots.

"We all should put hands together to fight the virus. We will also sensitise health workers on preventive measures," she said.

In his address, the Enugu State Commissioner for Health, Dr George Eze, called for prayers from the religious leaders to assist the fight against the virus.

He said the state government was planning a designated centre for Ebola victims in the state.

"We urge you to disseminate this information to your audience because we know they believe and respect you more.

"As leaders and custodians of our faith, we urge you to offer prayers and assist in the fight against this virus," the commissioner said.

In a lecture, Dr Arthur Idoko, a Consultant Physician at the Department of Community Medicine, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu, said there was no licensed vaccine for the treatment of Ebola virus infection.

He urged the people to handle animals with gloves and other protective gears to reduce the spread of the virus.

Idoko advised that people maintain adequate sanitation with the use of soap and bleach as preventive measures.

"We must cook animal products, like blood and meat, thoroughly before consumption," Idoko said.

Some of the participants in the meeting said they had been better sensitised on the causes and preventions of the infection.

Rev. Arinze Egemba of the Anglican Church, called on both the federal and state governments to be proactive in tackling issues relating to the spread of the virus.

"We are better enlightened on this issue of Ebola because the way the foreign media are presenting it depicts propaganda but today, they gave us the true picture different from what we thought.

"I know that when I get to the congregation that I pastor, I will correct some erroneous presentations," he said.

Rev. Sr. Maryann Okonkwo called on members of the public to always report suspected cases to relevant authorities.

Leaders from different faith-based organizations were represented at the event. NAN

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