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A dialogue on Nigeria’s ‘role’ in the African Union’s response to the Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak

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At the height of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in the three most affected West African countries, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, the African Union, as the overarching body responsible for affairs on the continent, sent in what many have fondly termed its “foot soldiers” to help fight the disease and restore dignity, hope and normalcy to the stricken countries.


At last count, they had sent in a total of 740 volunteers, from several countries, including Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Central African Republic. The volunteers were diverse in their specialties, and arrived on the shores of the three countries ready to fulfill the AU’s two pronged mandate: Stop the Ebola outbreak, and help restore the health systems of the three countries.

An AU volunteer in Guinea suited in PPE to work at the Ebola Treatment Unit in Koya

An AU volunteer in Guinea suited in PPE to work at the Ebola Treatment Unit in Koya

By far, the African Union’s contingent was the largest of all agencies which responded to the Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak in West Africa. Its’ two pronged approach provided the three countries much needed relief in the face of a crippling public health emergency. Nigeria sent in the largest number of volunteers under the African Union, deploying a total of 202 personnel to the field. Having successfully dealt with Ebola on its shores, Nigeria was in a prime position of having both the experience and expertise that would be required for the African Union’s intervention. Coupled with the large number of experts it deployed, it comes as no surprise then that Nigeria’s role in the response would be critical to the success of the AU’s mission.

Nigerian volunteers at the mobile Ebola lab at the Sierra Leonian border

Nigerian volunteers at the mobile Ebola lab at the Sierra Leonian border

A Nigerian AU volunteer mobilizes a community in Sierra Leone

A Nigerian AU volunteer mobilizes a community in Sierra Leone

The African Union has gradually withdrawn its “foot soldiers” over the past few months and officially withdrew the last of its volunteers on September 28, 2015. And so, at the end of this month, those of our colleagues who remain in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea will be coming home from what has undoubtedly been a war, a struggle to restore the public health of three countries in the face of innumerable socio-economic and cultural challenges. It is an end worth celebrating. More than that, it is a mission worth discussing, worth understanding.

We plan to do just that. And so yesterday we launched the Nigeria Health Watch Forum. The Nigeria Health Watch Forum will bring together experts in various fields to discuss topical issues in the Nigerian health sector, targeting a curated audience of health sector leaders, professionals, organizations and enthusiasts. The Forum will increase engagement of Nigerians with the health sector by promoting public discussion of pertinent issues in the Nigerian health space and enable increased accountability in the sector.

For the first dialogue of the Forum, we will be discussing Nigeria’s ‘role’ in the African Union’s response to the Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak. The dialogue will take place on Wednesday October 7, 2015, at the National Centre for Women Development, Opposite CBN, Central Area, Abuja, starting at 16:00 hours prompt.

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The dialogue will feature the leader of the Nigerian delegation of Volunteers to the African Union Support of Ebola Outbreak in West Africa (ASEOWA), Dr. Joshua Obasanya. Other panelists are Dr. Disu Oyewoga, Amaka Onyiah, and Director General of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Abdulsalami Nasidi.


On the morning of October 7, Nigeria Health Watch will discuss the inaugural dialogue on another new platform it is pioneering, the #OpenMoH radio show. In partnership with Nigeria Info Abuja, 95.1 FM, #OpenMoH will be a live radio show once a month where Nigeria Health Watch team members and Nigeria Info hosts will discuss topical issues relevant to the Nigerian Health Sector.  Inya Ode of Nigerian Info will be hosting Dr. Ifeanyi Nsofor of Nigeria Health Watch.

Register for the Nigeria Health Watch Forum Dialogue and join Nigeria Health Watch on October 7 for this important conversation. Please note that attendance is free but registration is mandatory.

The Nigeria Health Watch Forum is a platform of Nigeria Health Watch, a non-profit organisation that uses informed advocacy and communication to seek better health access to health care in Nigeria. Nigeria Health Watch is sponsored in part by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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