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Rivers yet to receive assistance from FG –Commissioner

Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi
Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi
The Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Sampson Parker, said the state had yet to benefit from any financial assistance from the Federal Government in the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease.
Parker, who said this in an interview with journalists on Saturday in Abuja, however, stated that Rivers had received a budget of N1bn from the Emergency Operation Committee to fight EVD in the state.
“The Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, has visited us and he said he was going to do something. So, I am waiting,” Parker said.
The commissioner said it was too early to talk about how much the state government had spent on the fight against EVD.
He said, “The governor (Rotimi Amaechi) will continue to release more funds; we are paying salaries daily. We are paying allowances daily. The expenditure is a daily occurrence. We will continue to spend. We have a budget of about N1bn combined. It is not just Rivers State Ministry of Health.
“It is from Emergency Operation Committee, comprising the Ministry of Health, WHO, UNICEF, and Centre for Disease Control. That is the EOC, it is not Rivers State. So, that is what we are budgeting. That is our projection for Rivers State. The governor has promised us that whenever we need resources, he is ready to make them available.”
The commissioner however warned Nigerians not to celebrate yet until the EVD issues had been sorted out in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Parker said, “We have a very robust set up, not only for treatment but also for prevention. All the points of entry, coming in by bus, by air and by sea are all covered. We can do just that much, I always say that no matter how careful you are, a bad man is always a bad man; just as Ibukun (Koye) escaped Lagos and came to Port Harcourt. And there was somebody that gave him a room.
“In war, where everywhere is tight, you see people escaping through gun battle and going to another country. It is like that. And, again, that brings us to the fact that it is not yet time to celebrate until we sort out the issues in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Those are human beings; and, in every human being, the survival instinct is high. If anyone escapes in Liberia and Sierra Leone, the place they will think of is Nigeria.
“No matter how tight we put our security, they will find a way to break through. The best way to prevent this disease from coming into Nigeria is to go there; the international community, Nigeria, West Africa community and Africa should go there and solve their problems. If you don’t solve their problems, one way or the other, they will break through into other countries.”
According to him, managing Ebola is costly, considering the fatality rate, morbidity rate and percentages.
Parker said, “In Port Harcourt, it is still quite new. We are just in the middle of it. I know that we still have up to 400 contacts under surveillance as I speak. It is too early for me to discuss resumption of schools. I have to do one thing at a time; let me finish this. I am not saying September 22 is too soon or it is too far. What the Federal Government has said is that schools will start resuming from that date.
“Scientifically, it is good for Rivers State; we will look at how it goes between now and next week. If we still stay clean and there is no other outbreak, then, we can say we will resume at a particular date.
“I don’t see why we will be able to resume on 22nd of this month. We are just ‘exhaling’.
“The Rivers State challenge is a bit more robust, wider than that of Lagos State challenge because the Lagos case was announced when the man came in ill.
“But, there is some criminality about the Rivers situation. We didn’t know that we had it in our midst until the man died and somebody started confessing. And, this man was a medical doctor; the way he came in, hid it from himself, even hid it from his colleagues. And, before we heard of it and investigated it, he is dead. And, we found out it was an Ebola case. It has taken about two to three weeks.
“You can imagine how many contacts we have to follow up. Some travelled out; some within, some in denial and all that. That is why I said that it is just God and the commitment of the workforce
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