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Nigeria’s seven lessons from polio and Ebola response

Ayodeji Oluwole Odutolu's picture

Amid the devastating effects of West Africa’s Ebola outbreak to human lives, communities, institutions, systems and the economy, there are lessons to be learned for the region to be better prepared to handle future outbreaks.

Granted, the Ebola outbreak in Nigeria was caught early before it spiralled out of control, unlike in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, but Nigeria was also able to successfully contain the disease. The country would have not been able to respond so swiftly if it had not had a history of responding to public health emergencies, such as recurrent cholera and Lassa fever outbreaks and lead poisoning, and developed an appropriate response capacity.
 
Some components of the Ebola response in Nigeria were adapted from the country’s polio eradication efforts, as well as infrastructure and capacity built in response to an Avian Flu outbreak in 2006. Until recently, polio had debilitated thousands of Nigerian children annually. In 2015, Nigeria marked the one-year anniversary of Wild Polio Virus interruption, and had before been declared Ebola-free.
 
So we ask: How did a previously weak system suddenly gain the momentum to operate efficiently and yield favorable outcomes?  Are there lessons we can learn related to the effectiveness of future disease surveillance and emergency response efforts? In both instances [Ebola and polio], we found an alignment of several factors – what we call the seven “P’s:”

Closing health gaps for women: The Botswana story

Patricio V. Marquez's picture
HPV vaccine being administered in Botswana. Photo: Ministry of Health of Botswana


​The World Bank Group’s new Gender Equality Strategy for 2016-2023, launched last week, addresses gender inclusion not just as a goal in and of itself, but one critical to development effectiveness.  

Running away from “Tobacco Road”

Patricio V. Marquez's picture
Image: Patricio Marquez

Earlier this fall, my oldest son invited me to watch him run his first half marathon in Durham, North Carolina. While standing at the starting line, facing hundreds of runners of different ages, I could not help but be amazed by the irony of the situation:  In the midst of a region in the United States known as “tobacco road,” there was tangible evidence of a significant, healthier turn in people’s norms and behaviors.

Will India leapfrog toward universal health coverage?

Somil Nagpal's picture



It’s that time of year again, when we observe a day dedicated to the most ambitious health goal of all: universal health coverage, or UHC. On UHC Day (Dec. 12) we commemorate the date in 2012 when the United Nations unanimously endorsed a resolution urging governments to ensure that all people can access health care without financial hardship.

Financing health for all

Nana Taona Kuo's picture



Universal health coverage, a pillar of sustainable development, is highlighted in Agenda 2030, to promote health and well-being for all. Propelled by the United Nations and global partners, the universal health coverage movement has gained momentum, calling on countries to scale up efforts so that every person—but especially the disenfranchised and most vulnerable amongst us—can access affordable, quality care.

Where did the demographers in Africa go?

Anne Bakilana's picture



We are writing this from Pretoria, at the seventh African Population Conference (APC) jointly hosted by the government of South Africa and the Union for African Population Studies (UAPS). The conference  is convened only once every four years, so this was a rare opportunity for the World Bank Group to engage the region’s academicians and policymakers on the conference’s key theme: Demographic Dividend in Africa: Prospects, Opportunities and Challenges.

Shining a light on mental illness: An “invisible disability”

Patricio V. Marquez's picture



This year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities, observed December 3, takes as its theme: “Inclusion matters: Access and Empowerment for People of all Abilities.”  Under this umbrella, the U.N. and other international agencies urge inclusion of persons with “invisible disabilities” in society and in development efforts.

World AIDS Day: Four steps to achieve epidemic control

David Wilson's picture

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World AIDS Day 2015 marks an unheralded but profound increase in our response to HIV and other major infectious diseases. In the last year, HIV diagnostics and medicines have made a real step change, as better and cheaper viral load tests and lower-dose, less toxic, more effective and cheaper drugs come to market. Drug costs are at their lowest ever, with generic first-line regimens costing $95-158 per patient per year – a 60-70% reduction from 2007-2014.

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