Oct 202014
 
PARIS, France, October 20, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Quai d'Orsay - French official statements (Paris, Otober 20, 2014)


France condemns the terrorist attack that killed seven soldiers in the Sinai yesterday.


We extend our condolences to the victims' families.


France stands alongside the Egyptian people and government in their fight against terrorism.


Oct 202014
 

MOGADISHU, Somalia, October 20, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia (SRSG), Nicholas Kay, condemned an attack on African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces in Hiiraan region and called for calm as rival clans caused insecurity in the area. Armed men and rioters blocked and attacked AMISOM troops yesterday morning while they were on a mission to help restore peace near the village of Deefow.

“I condemn yesterday’s attack on AMISOM troops near the village of Deefow in Hiiraan region. They were in the area to calm the situation and promote reconciliation. The situation will not be resolved by further violence. Local leaders and traditional elders must work together to de-escalate the situation and resolve their differences through peaceful dialogue in full co-operation with the federal and regional governments. The Somali people have suffered enough and know that no good can come from further violence and insecurity. We remain committed to supporting the Somali people, the Federal Government and AMISOM as they work together to restore peace.” said SRSG Kay.

SRSG Kay extended his sincere condolences to the family and friends of those who were killed or injured as a result of the conflict in Hiiraan region.

Oct 202014
 

MOGADISHU, Somalia, October 20, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia (SRSG), Nicholas Kay, condemned an attack on African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces in Hiiraan region and called for calm as rival clans caused insecurity in the area. Armed men and rioters blocked and attacked AMISOM troops yesterday morning while they were on a mission to help restore peace near the village of Deefow.

“I condemn yesterday’s attack on AMISOM troops near the village of Deefow in Hiiraan region. They were in the area to calm the situation and promote reconciliation. The situation will not be resolved by further violence. Local leaders and traditional elders must work together to de-escalate the situation and resolve their differences through peaceful dialogue in full co-operation with the federal and regional governments. The Somali people have suffered enough and know that no good can come from further violence and insecurity. We remain committed to supporting the Somali people, the Federal Government and AMISOM as they work together to restore peace.” said SRSG Kay.

SRSG Kay extended his sincere condolences to the family and friends of those who were killed or injured as a result of the conflict in Hiiraan region.

Oct 202014
 

DAKAR, Senegal, October 20, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — For more than a year, experts and members of Senegalese civil society have been rallying together to plan the topics for the 15th Francophonie Summit programme (http://www.francophoniedakar2014.sn), which will focus on the themes from the previous Summit in Kinshasa – “Francophonie’s women and young people: vectors for peace and actors for development”.

Logo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/francophonie1.png

The aim: to offer concrete initiatives that respond to the social, economic and political challenges faced by young people and women, whotogether represent of 70% of the population of Francophonie Member States.

The different meetings organized during the year by the Scientific Committee, chaired by El HadjHamidouKassé, Special advisor to the President of the Republic, enabled the formalization of strategic recommendations that will be available for the Head of States and Governments. They start from the necessity to better inform and train women and young people in accordance with local needs but also, and especially, through supporting their entrepreneurial initiatives at a local, national, and international level.

They also call for concerted action by stakeholders in the Francophonie (States and governments, institutions, funding agencies, local authorities, businesses etc.). Among the strategic and operational recommendations:

• The constitutionalisation of socio-economic and cultural rights of women and young people (access to good quality land and to capital, markets and factors of production)

• The creation of a Francophonie Forum for scientific, technical, cultural and agricultural innovation to strengthen female entrepreneurship

• The establishment of innovative support and finance mechanisms with, for example, a Francophonie Bank for entrepreneurial projects of women and young people

• The improvement of scientific and cultural mobility within the French-speaking community by facilitating visa obtention for limited stays

• The support of knowledge-sharing within the Francophone space, by extending international volunteering programmes, setting up a Francophone academy and a camp d’excellence

• The creation of a group that brings together ministers for Health from Francophone countries on issues affecting health

• The reinforcement of prevention by promoting physical activity and sport in education systems through support of the Francophone Games

• The use of digital technology, which not only offers unprecedented opportunities for training and learning, but is also an area in which many new initiatives are being developed

• Establishing operational mechanisms to support women and youth and women employment

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of the XVe Sommet de la Francophonie.

Media contact: Francophonie_dakar2014@richardattiasassociates.com, tel: +33 1 42 68 83 94

For practical information regarding the 15th Francophonie Summit, please visit: http://www.francophoniedakar2014.sn

Also follow the Summit news on Twitter: @SFDK2014 and join the Facebook group: DAKAR 2014!

Oct 202014
 

DAKAR, Senegal, October 20, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — For more than a year, experts and members of Senegalese civil society have been rallying together to plan the topics for the 15th Francophonie Summit programme (http://www.francophoniedakar2014.sn), which will focus on the themes from the previous Summit in Kinshasa – “Francophonie’s women and young people: vectors for peace and actors for development”.

Logo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/francophonie1.png

The aim: to offer concrete initiatives that respond to the social, economic and political challenges faced by young people and women, whotogether represent of 70% of the population of Francophonie Member States.

The different meetings organized during the year by the Scientific Committee, chaired by El HadjHamidouKassé, Special advisor to the President of the Republic, enabled the formalization of strategic recommendations that will be available for the Head of States and Governments. They start from the necessity to better inform and train women and young people in accordance with local needs but also, and especially, through supporting their entrepreneurial initiatives at a local, national, and international level.

They also call for concerted action by stakeholders in the Francophonie (States and governments, institutions, funding agencies, local authorities, businesses etc.). Among the strategic and operational recommendations:

• The constitutionalisation of socio-economic and cultural rights of women and young people (access to good quality land and to capital, markets and factors of production)

• The creation of a Francophonie Forum for scientific, technical, cultural and agricultural innovation to strengthen female entrepreneurship

• The establishment of innovative support and finance mechanisms with, for example, a Francophonie Bank for entrepreneurial projects of women and young people

• The improvement of scientific and cultural mobility within the French-speaking community by facilitating visa obtention for limited stays

• The support of knowledge-sharing within the Francophone space, by extending international volunteering programmes, setting up a Francophone academy and a camp d’excellence

• The creation of a group that brings together ministers for Health from Francophone countries on issues affecting health

• The reinforcement of prevention by promoting physical activity and sport in education systems through support of the Francophone Games

• The use of digital technology, which not only offers unprecedented opportunities for training and learning, but is also an area in which many new initiatives are being developed

• Establishing operational mechanisms to support women and youth and women employment

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of the XVe Sommet de la Francophonie.

Media contact: Francophonie_dakar2014@richardattiasassociates.com, tel: +33 1 42 68 83 94

For practical information regarding the 15th Francophonie Summit, please visit: http://www.francophoniedakar2014.sn

Also follow the Summit news on Twitter: @SFDK2014 and join the Facebook group: DAKAR 2014!

Oct 202014
 

LUXEMBURG, Luxembourg, October 20, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Foreign Affairs Council meeting
The Council adopted the following conclusions:
1. “Recalling its conclusions and the European Council conclusions of August 2014, the Counci…

Oct 202014
 

LUXEMBURG, Luxembourg, October 20, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Foreign Affairs Council meeting
The Council adopted the following conclusions:
1. “Recalling its conclusions and the European Council conclusions of August 2014, the Counci…

Oct 202014
 

LUXEMBURG, Luxembourg, October 20, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Foreign Affairs Council meeting

The Council adopted the following conclusions:

“1. The European Union remains deeply concerned at the ongoing conflicts in Sudan, notably in Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile and the accompanying violations of humanitarian and human rights law, as well as a serious humanitarian emergency all of which continue to cause enormous human suffering and internal displacements and pose a risk to regional stability. There can be no military solution to conflicts in Sudan. The EU therefore supports the African Union Peace and Security Council’s repeated call for a holistic approach to

Sudan’s multiple challenges and the need to tackle comprehensively the political, economic and social causes of persisting conflict.

2. The initiated National Dialogue process is currently the best opportunity to make progress towards this goal and to pave the way towards internal peace, reconciliation and democratic governance. The EU welcomes recent signs of a political momentum, in particular the

Agreements on the National Dialogue and Constitutional Process signed in Addis Ababa on

4 September 2014. It calls on all groups to renounce violence as a means for political change and to seize this opportunity for a political solution to Sudan’s challenges through dialogue and negotiation without delay.

3. The EU considers that for the National Dialogue to succeed and to achieve legitimate results, it should be

• inclusive: Space should be given for a meaningful participation of the opposition parties and armed movements as well as civil society, including women’s, groups. The dialogue should include stakeholders from all of Sudan’s regions and reflect the full ethnic, religious and cultural diversity of Sudan;

• comprehensive: To address Sudan’s internal conflicts, issues such as socio-economic

marginalisation, unequal distribution of resources, political exclusion and lack of access to public services need to be tackled. The dialogue should provide mechanisms for the way forward for peace and development in all regions in conflict. It should provide for a platform on which to discuss issues of national importance, including identity and social equality, agree new and inclusive governance arrangements, a definitive constitution and a roadmap for the holding of national elections; 2/2

• held in a conducive environment: The freedoms of expression, of media, of association and assembly must be guaranteed. Political prisoners must be released, and practices of arbitrary detention – like those across the anniversary of the September 2013 protests – stopped;

• accompanied by confidence-building measures: These should include, first and foremost an immediate, sustained and verifiable cessation of hostilities and free and unhindered humanitarian access to all civilians in the conflict areas. This is of relevance both to the Government of Sudan and to the armed movements;

• transparent about the process, the objectives, the timeframe and the way forward, so that the Sudanese people at large can own the process and accept its outcomes.

4. The EU stands ready to support a National Dialogue process as set out above and encourages all stakeholders inside and outside Sudan to join efforts towards such a process.

5. The EU reiterates its full support to the work of the AU High Level Implementation Panel

(AUHIP) and commends its chairman President Mbeki on his recent efforts to promote a genuine National Dialogue process on a broad basis. The EU calls on all international stakeholders to rally behind the AUHIP to reinforce its role and strengthen its voice. The EU supports current efforts to create a comprehensive platform for the facilitation of the National

Dialogue that will integrate the different peace and dialogue processes for Sudan’s regional conflicts.

6. Sudan stands at an important crossroad. A genuine National Dialogue would help enhance confidence between Sudan and international partners such as the EU. It would also create a peaceful environment in which tangible and sustained progress in addressing Sudan’s main political and economic challenges, needed to secure debt relief under the HIPC process, could be achieved. The EU therefore calls on the Government of Sudan, the opposition and the armed movements to rise to the occasion and demonstrate the leadership necessary to put Sudan on a path to peace, prosperity and justice. In this respect, the EU recalls the importance of fighting impunity.

7. In the face of the worsening humanitarian situation the EU is very concerned by access restrictions still imposed for international humanitarian agencies and organisations. It reiterates its call on the Government of Sudan, as well as on armed movements to guarantee safe, timely and unhindered humanitarian access to all areas by humanitarian agencies, in particular in conflict-affected areas in line with international humanitarian principles. Civilians, humanitarian staff and assets must be protected.

8. The EU reiterates its commitment to support Sudan and the Sudanese people in their transition to an internally reformed democracy, living in peace with itself and with its

neighbours.”

Oct 202014
 

LUXEMBURG, Luxembourg, October 20, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Foreign Affairs Council meeting

The Council adopted the following conclusions:

“1. The European Union remains deeply concerned at the ongoing conflicts in Sudan, notably in Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile and the accompanying violations of humanitarian and human rights law, as well as a serious humanitarian emergency all of which continue to cause enormous human suffering and internal displacements and pose a risk to regional stability. There can be no military solution to conflicts in Sudan. The EU therefore supports the African Union Peace and Security Council’s repeated call for a holistic approach to

Sudan’s multiple challenges and the need to tackle comprehensively the political, economic and social causes of persisting conflict.

2. The initiated National Dialogue process is currently the best opportunity to make progress towards this goal and to pave the way towards internal peace, reconciliation and democratic governance. The EU welcomes recent signs of a political momentum, in particular the

Agreements on the National Dialogue and Constitutional Process signed in Addis Ababa on

4 September 2014. It calls on all groups to renounce violence as a means for political change and to seize this opportunity for a political solution to Sudan’s challenges through dialogue and negotiation without delay.

3. The EU considers that for the National Dialogue to succeed and to achieve legitimate results, it should be

• inclusive: Space should be given for a meaningful participation of the opposition parties and armed movements as well as civil society, including women’s, groups. The dialogue should include stakeholders from all of Sudan’s regions and reflect the full ethnic, religious and cultural diversity of Sudan;

• comprehensive: To address Sudan’s internal conflicts, issues such as socio-economic

marginalisation, unequal distribution of resources, political exclusion and lack of access to public services need to be tackled. The dialogue should provide mechanisms for the way forward for peace and development in all regions in conflict. It should provide for a platform on which to discuss issues of national importance, including identity and social equality, agree new and inclusive governance arrangements, a definitive constitution and a roadmap for the holding of national elections; 2/2

• held in a conducive environment: The freedoms of expression, of media, of association and assembly must be guaranteed. Political prisoners must be released, and practices of arbitrary detention – like those across the anniversary of the September 2013 protests – stopped;

• accompanied by confidence-building measures: These should include, first and foremost an immediate, sustained and verifiable cessation of hostilities and free and unhindered humanitarian access to all civilians in the conflict areas. This is of relevance both to the Government of Sudan and to the armed movements;

• transparent about the process, the objectives, the timeframe and the way forward, so that the Sudanese people at large can own the process and accept its outcomes.

4. The EU stands ready to support a National Dialogue process as set out above and encourages all stakeholders inside and outside Sudan to join efforts towards such a process.

5. The EU reiterates its full support to the work of the AU High Level Implementation Panel

(AUHIP) and commends its chairman President Mbeki on his recent efforts to promote a genuine National Dialogue process on a broad basis. The EU calls on all international stakeholders to rally behind the AUHIP to reinforce its role and strengthen its voice. The EU supports current efforts to create a comprehensive platform for the facilitation of the National

Dialogue that will integrate the different peace and dialogue processes for Sudan’s regional conflicts.

6. Sudan stands at an important crossroad. A genuine National Dialogue would help enhance confidence between Sudan and international partners such as the EU. It would also create a peaceful environment in which tangible and sustained progress in addressing Sudan’s main political and economic challenges, needed to secure debt relief under the HIPC process, could be achieved. The EU therefore calls on the Government of Sudan, the opposition and the armed movements to rise to the occasion and demonstrate the leadership necessary to put Sudan on a path to peace, prosperity and justice. In this respect, the EU recalls the importance of fighting impunity.

7. In the face of the worsening humanitarian situation the EU is very concerned by access restrictions still imposed for international humanitarian agencies and organisations. It reiterates its call on the Government of Sudan, as well as on armed movements to guarantee safe, timely and unhindered humanitarian access to all areas by humanitarian agencies, in particular in conflict-affected areas in line with international humanitarian principles. Civilians, humanitarian staff and assets must be protected.

8. The EU reiterates its commitment to support Sudan and the Sudanese people in their transition to an internally reformed democracy, living in peace with itself and with its

neighbours.”

Oct 202014
 

LUXEMBURG, Luxembourg, October 20, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Foreign Affairs Council meeting
The Council adopted the following conclusions:
“1. The EU welcomes the political and security progress made in Somalia since the signing of …

Oct 202014
 

DAKAR, Sénégal, October 20, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Special Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for the Sahel, Mrs. Hiroute Guebre Sellassie, paid her first official visit to Chad from 15 to 17 October 2014.

During her visit, the Special Envoy met with President Idriss Deby Itno and Chadian authorities and discussed the various challenges facing the Sahel region. In this regard, she welcomed the contribution of Chad to stability in the Sahel, including the deployment of a Chadian contingent to support the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

Mrs. Guebre Sellassie thanked President Deby for his support to the implementation of the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel, and stressed the need to strengthen the coordination between the various strategies and initiatives as well as between regional and International partners working in the Sahel.

“The various strategies and initiatives for the Sahel will benefit to the countries of the region if they are coordinated and are subject to national and regional ownership,” she said.

For his part, President Deby expressed his personal support to the Special Envoy in her mission and reiterated the commitment of his country to work with the United Nations.

President Deby and Mrs. Guebre Sellassie agreed on the importance of regional ownership and the need to strengthen the coordination in particular between the G5 and the Ministerial Coordination Platform for the Sahel strategies.

During her visit, Mrs. Guebre Sellassie met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat, and the Minister of Economy, Trade and Tourism development, Mr. Aziz Mahamat Saleh.

She also met with the technical and financial partners and the United Nations country team.

Oct 202014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, October 20, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Situation assessment – 20 October 2014

The lines on the tabular situation reports, sent to WHO headquarters each day by its country office in Nigeria, have now been full of zeros for 42 days.

WHO officially declares that Nigeria is now free of Ebola virus transmission.

This is a spectacular success story that shows that Ebola can be contained. The story of how Nigeria ended what many believed to be potentially the most explosive Ebola outbreak imaginable is worth telling in detail.

Such a story can help the many other developing countries that are deeply worried by the prospect of an imported Ebola case and eager to improve their preparedness plans. Many wealthy countries, with outstanding health systems, may have something to learn as well.

The complete story also illustrates how Nigeria has come so close to the successful interruption of wild poliovirus transmission from its vast and densely-populated territory.

As sometimes fortunately happens in public health, one success breeds others when lessons and best practices are collected and applied.

Earlier this year, WHO confirmed that Nigeria had eradicated guinea-worm disease – another spectacular success story. When the eradication initiative was launched, Nigeria was the epicentre of this disease, with more than 650 000 cases reported each year.

A shocked public health community – worldwide

When laboratory confirmation of the country’s first Ebola case, in Lagos, was announced on 23 July, the news rocked public health communities all around the world.

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country and its newest economic powerhouse. For a disease outbreak, it is also a powder keg. The number of people living in Lagos – around 21 million – is almost as large as the populations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone combined.

Lagos, Africa’s largest city, is also characterized by a large population living in crowded and unsanitary conditions in many slums.

Thousands of people move in and out of Lagos every day, constantly looking for work or markets for their products in a busy metropolis with frequent gridlocks of vehicle traffic.

“How can contact tracing be done under such conditions?” This was the main concern raised at the beginning, shortly after the first confirmed case was announced.

As the United States Consul General in Nigeria, Jeffrey Hawkins, said at the time, “The last thing anyone in the world wants to hear is the 2 words, ‘Ebola’ and ‘Lagos’ in the same sentence. ” As he noted, that single juxtaposition conjured up images of an “apocalyptic urban outbreak”.

That never happened. With assistance from WHO, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and others, government health officials reached 100% of known contacts in Lagos and 99.8% at the second outbreak site, in Port Harcourt, Nigeria’s oil hub.

Federal and State governments in Nigeria provided ample financial and material resources, as well as well-trained and experienced national staff.

Isolation wards were immediately constructed, as were designated Ebola treatment facilities, though more slowly. Vehicles and mobile phones, with specially adapted programmes, were made available to aid real-time reporting as the investigations moved forward.

Unlike the situation in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, all identified contacts were physically monitored on a daily basis for 21 days. The few contacts who attempted to escape the monitoring system were all diligently tracked, using special intervention teams, and returned to medical observation to complete the requisite monitoring period of 21 days.

The “index” case: how it all started

The Ebola virus entered Lagos on 20 July via an infected Liberian air traveller, who died 5 days later. At the departure airport, he was visibly very ill, lying on the floor of the waiting room while awaiting the flight.

He vomited during the flight, on arrival and, yet again, in the private car that drove him to a private hospital. The protocol officer who escorted him later died of Ebola.

At the hospital, he told staff that he had malaria and denied any contact with an Ebola patient. As was learned later, his sister was a confirmed case who had died from the disease in Liberia. The traveller visited his sister while in hospital and attended her traditional funeral and burial ceremony.

As malaria is not transmitted from person to person, no staff at the hospital took protective precautions. Over the coming days, 9 doctors and nurses became infected and 4 of them died.

The second outbreak site: Port Harcourt

The virus entered the country’s oil hub, Port Harcourt, on 1 August, when a close contact of the index case flew there seeking care from a private physician. That doctor developed symptoms on 10 August and died of Ebola on 23 August. Laboratory tests confirmed the city’s first case on 27 August.

An investigation undertaken by a team of epidemiologists from the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the Nigeria Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme and the State Ministry of Health, assisted by WHO, revealed an alarming number of high-risk and very high-risk exposures for hundreds of people.

Again, all the ingredients for an explosion of new cases were in place. Dr Rui Vaz, the head of WHO’s country office in Nigeria, visited Rivers State (where Port Harcourt is located) to assess the situation there. He informed the State’s Governor of the potentially explosive situation and made his advice crystal clear: “All required resources must be immediately mobilized to stop this outbreak.”

Fortunately, the State’s Governor heeded WHO’s advice and that “explosive situation did not happen.

Today, exactly 42 days (twice the maximum incubation period for Ebola virus disease) after the country’s last infectious contact with a confirmed or probable case occurred, the chains of transmission have been broken.

The virus is gone – for now. The outbreak in Nigeria has been defeated.

What accounts for this great news?

To a large extent, the answer is straightforward: the country’s strong leadership and effective coordination of the response. The Nigerian response to the outbreak was greatly aided by the rapid utilization of a national public institution (NCDC) and the prompt establishment of an Emergency Operations Centre, supported by the Disease Prevention and Control Cluster within the WHO country office.

Another key asset was the country’s first-rate virology laboratory affiliated with the Lagos University Teaching Hospital. That laboratory was staffed and equipped to quickly and reliably diagnose a case of Ebola virus disease, which ensured that containment measures could begin with the shortest possible delay.

In addition, high-quality contact tracing by experienced epidemiologists expedited the early detection of cases and their rapid movement to an isolation ward, thereby greatly diminishing opportunities for further transmission.

How a highly contagious virus was stopped dead in its tracks

Dr Rui Vaz and the WHO country team of epidemiologists, clinicians, logisticians and administrators have identified a number of specific lessons that may be useful for other countries facing their first imported Ebola case or preparing for one. They have also carefully documented a large number of “best practices” for containing an Ebola outbreak quickly.

The most critical factor is leadership and engagement from the head of state and the Minister of Health. Generous allocation of government funds and their quick disbursement helped as well. Partnership with the private sector was yet another asset that brought in substantial resources to help scale up control measures that would eventually stop the Ebola virus dead in its tracks.

Health and government officials fully appreciated the importance of communication with the general public. They rallied communities to support containment measures.

House-to-house information campaigns and messages on local radio stations, in local dialects, were used to explain the level of risk, effective personal preventive measures and the actions being taken for control. On his part, the President reassured the country’s vast and diversified population through appearances on nationally televised newscasts.

The full range of media opportunities was exploited – from social media to televised facts about the disease delivered by well-known “Nollywood” movie stars.

Polio strategies “repurposed” for Ebola control

For some time now, with dedicated and enthusiastic support from President Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria has been running one of the world’s most innovative polio eradication campaigns, using the very latest satellite-based cutting-edge GPS technologies to ensure that no child misses out on polio vaccination.

The country, which passed through the high-transmission season with only 1 single case of polio detected by a finely-tuned and sensitive surveillance system, is on track to interrupt wild poliovirus transmission from its borders before the end of this year.

When the first Ebola case was confirmed in July, health officials immediately repurposed polio technologies and infrastructures to conduct Ebola case-finding and contact-tracing.

The use of cutting-edge technologies, developed with guidance from the WHO polio programme, put GPS systems to work as support for real-time contact tracing and daily mapping of links between identified chains of transmission.

This is a good public health story with an unusual twist at the end. As part of preparedness for an imported case, several advanced countries with good health systems are now studying technologies “made in Nigeria”, with WHO support, to improve their own contact tracing capacities.

The story has another very clear message, as noted by Dr Margaret Chan, the WHO Director-General. “If a country like Nigeria, hampered by serious security problems, can do this – that is, make significant progress towards interrupting polio transmission, eradicate guinea-worm disease and contain Ebola, all at the same time – any country in the world experiencing an imported case can hold onward transmission to just a handful of cases.”

World-class epidemiological detective work would eventually link every single one of the country’s 19 confirmed cases back to direct or indirect contact with that 20 July air traveller from Liberia.

In another strategy, traditional, religious and community leaders were engaged early on and played a critical role in sensitizing the public. Like many others, the strategy drew on successful experiences in the polio programme.

The awareness campaigns that worked so well to create public acceptance of polio immunization were likewise repurposed to encourage early reporting of symptoms, backed by the message that early detection and supportive care greatly increase an Ebola patient’s prospects of survival.

All of these efforts were supported by social mobilization experts from UNICEF, CDC and Médecins sans Frontières, while the staff from the WHO Nigeria office, the Regional Office for Africa and headquarters boosted outbreak investigation, risk assessment, contact tracing and clinical care.

In the end, Nigeria confirmed a total of 19 cases, of whom 7 died and 12 survived, giving the country an enviable case fatality rate of 40% – much lower than the 70% and higher seen elsewhere.

Finally, to help maintain the confidence of citizens and foreign companies and investors alike, the government undertook the screening of all arriving and departing travellers by air and by sea in Lagos and Rivers State. The average number of travellers screened each day rose to more than 16 000.

Vigilance remains high

Nigerian government and health officials, including staff in the WHO country office, are well aware that the country will remain vulnerable to another imported case as long as intense transmission continues in other parts of West Africa.

The surveillance system remains on guard, at a level of high alert. Moreover, the country’s success, including its low fatality rate, has created another problem that calls for a high level of alert.

Many desperate people in heavily affected countries believe that Nigeria must have some especially good – maybe even “magical” – treatments to offer.

WHO’s Dr Vaz and others see a real risk that patients and their families from elsewhere will come to Nigeria in their quest for first-rate, live-saving care.

Based on the experience gained from the response in the 2 affected States, the national preparedness and response plan has also been revised and refined.

This strengthened response plan further boosts confidence that Nigeria’s well-oiled machinery has a good chance of working miracles again should another traveller – by land, air or sea – carry the Ebola virus across its borders again.