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Stigma: 2 Lagos Ebola Survivors Sacked By Their Employers

…As Lagos State Govt Vows To Prosecute Employers

Ayo Balogun, Lagos

Two patients, who survived the deadly Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, have been sacked by their employers in Lagos in a case of stigmatisation, while the Lagos State Government has vowed to prosecute the employers for sacking the Ebola survivors.

Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola

Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola

Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris lamented that Ebola survivors or those whose who had been placed under surveillance and later freed to go were being stigmatised against.

He said two cases of such stimatisation had been brought to the attention of the government, saying that the cases had been referred to the Ministry of Justice for prosecution, stressing that being an Ebola-free person did not mean such people should be discriminated against as Ebola is just like Malaria infection which had killed more people than Ebola.

“The social problem being faced by discharged cases has being reported severally. This ranges from stigmatization, eviction from their accommodation, being asked to stay away from work and termination of employment.

“We’ve had cases of employers just terminating the employment of their staff who were just mere contacts, not even suspected cases. We believe this is unfair and we feel this impedes on their fundamental human rights. I wish to implore all Lagosians once more not to stigmatize all cases and contacts that have been given a clean bill of health and passionately urge all of us and all employers inclusive to facilitate their reintegration to the society.

“Stigmatization will further make contacts and suspects to go underground and continue to reverse the gains so far made in the containment and management of this outbreak. People who feel stigmatized may not want to come out because of that, they come up with symptoms and they may not come out and jeopardize not only their lives, but their family members and other people they come in contact with. That’s why it is essential that people should stop that,” he said.

According to Idris, “one thing I want to emphasize again is that the Ministry of Justice will take the matter up. Anybody, whether a discharged patient, or a contact followed up who feels stigmatized can petition the Ministry of Justice and the Attorney General of Lagos State and they would take that matter up on their behalf because it is not fair and it is not right.

“Those on contact list, that is on surveillance are enjoined not to travel out of state and should alert the rapid response on manifestation of symptoms or signs. Lagosians are also enjoined to report any case or cases that may want to embark on this kind of dastardly misadventure.”

Idris added that the government had also had meeting with mortuary operators as this represented another area that might facilitate the spread of the disease.

“We have given them protocols they need to follow when they are dealing with suspected cases, like that what they should do and what kind of precautions they should take so that we can reduce the spread. We also want to urge operators to adhere to their professional best practices when handling such corpses,” he said.

Idris also said the government has cleared the First Medical Consultant Centre to reopen for operation as the facility had been decontaminated.

“We urge those who use the First Consultants Hospital, to support them, it remains a flagship medical centre. They have been given a clean bill of health,” he said.


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