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How The Heroic Efforts of Justina Ejelonu To Contain Ebola Outbreak In Nigeria Claimed Her Life

Ebola survivor, Dennis Akagha, has shared how his late fiancée Justina Ejelonu died from the Ebola virus in 2014. He expresses pain that her sacrifices have remained unrecognized.

The Ebola virus outbreak hit Nigeria in July 2014. The index case, a Liberian-American traveller came into Nigeria through the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos.

The patient, Patrick Sawyer died five days after his arrival into the country, but not before he had effectively infected several members of the medical corps in the First Consultant Hospital in Lagos where he was admitted.

Members of the medical corps included the doctor who treated him, Ameyo Stella Adedevoh, who died alongside six others in the hospital.

Adedevoh was credited with preventing the spread of the virus in Nigeria by preventing Sawyer from leaving the hospital following his diagnosis. She had placed the patient in quarantine, defying serious pressures mounted by the Liberian government.

Ejelonu was a nurse in the hospital and her duty included administering medical care to the index case. She had just been offered a nursing job in the hospital and Sawyer was the first patient in her duty roaster.

In a thread of tweets in memory of Ejelonu posted by her fiancée on Twitter, Akagha disclosed that Ejelonu was pregnant and had delayed resuming at the hospital due to her experience with morning sickness. Against the state of her health, she forced herself to resume work.

Three weeks later, there were complications. She had a miscarriage accompanied by heavy bleeding.

Her fiancée, Akagha, forced her into an isolation centre. “She lost all strength in her but even in her weakness, she was stubborn (something, I admired about her). For those who know her in person will understand what I mean.

“She refused going with me to the hospital despite everything I and her cousin who is a medical doctor said to her. I stubbornly arranged for a cab, went to the house carried her on my back into the cab and we both headed to (an isolation facility) at about 10-11pm,” Akagha narrated.

He expressed disappointment that irrespective of the supreme sacrifices by a few Nigerians in the war against Ebola, only one person is recognized and honoured for curbing the spread of the virus.

“Also, a nursing maid whose responsibility was to clean Sawyers room died in the process and other persons who haven’t been duly recognised – what a system.

“That is the country we find ourselves in. A country where people’s rights and benefits are being trampled (upon) because they are not from the bloodlines of the who’s who in the society.

“Justina Obioma Ejelonu and everyone who haven’t been duly recognised took an oath of service, pledged to Nigeria their country, to be faithful, loyal and honest even when their lives were on the line.

“They served Nigeria with all their strength, skill and expertise, defending her from the hands of Ebola but what did they get in return, death, disappointment,” Akagha lamented.

He said that hers and others whose sacrifices were not recognized, died for a good cause, and gave up their own interest, happiness and desires for the safety of their fellow Nigerians.

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Hafsah Abubakar Matazu

Hafsah Abubakar Matazu is the current Programme Director at HumAngle. She holds a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) in Mass Communication from Baze University Abuja. Prior to joining HumAngle, she worked for Abuja-based Daily Trust Newspapers as an investigative reporter. She leads the program team in planning and implementing grants as well as funded and non funded reporting projects. She tweets via @hafsahabubakar_

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