93 Days, directed by Steve Gukas, is a 2016 Nigerian film inspired by the real-life events of Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian-American lawyer who arrived in Lagos on July 20, 2014. Sawyer, already in a sickly state, had travelled to Nigeria to represent the Liberian government in a conference. He was taken to First Consultant Hospital immediately on his arrival. He would later be identified as Nigeria’s Ebola index case.

Beyond the panic and the danger of Ebola, 93 Days also brings forward something often forgotten in such events – the people and their sacrifices.

The film shows First Consultant Hospital’s approach to treating Sawyer. Without Dr Ameyo Stella Adadevoh’s persistence to find a diagnosis, Sawyer could have been discharged to continue with his conference – putting millions of lives at risk in Lagos and by extension the world. Ebola was a tough diagnosis, with symptoms at that point similar to other diseases like malaria.

Health care is never a linear process and there are many factors, including politics, that affect the performance and effectiveness of health care services. 93 Days highlights these dynamics, as viewers witness Sawyer using his political influence with Liberian officials in Nigeria to apply pressure onto First Consultant Hospital and the Nigerian government to release him and allow him to continue with his agenda.

First Consultant Hospital then had to simultaneously manage Sawyer’s health conditions and navigate the political climate from Nigeria’s Ministry of Health and the Liberian government’s demands. It was not unfamiliar to see the pressure applied on First Consultant Hospital to prioritise political aspirations over health, yet it was assuring to see how First Consultant Hospital remained dedicated to upholding the safety and health of the general public.

Beyond the panic and the danger of Ebola, 93 Days also brings forward something often forgotten in such events – the people and their sacrifices. Dr Adadevoh has been globally recognised as the woman that helped save Nigeria from a catastrophic Ebola outbreak, but this omits the sacrifices made by her colleagues, their friends, and families. The film honours their efforts, showing and naming others who worked with Dr Adadevoh. People like nurse Justina Echelonu, who joined First Consultant Hospital the same day Sawyer was admitted and was pregnant at the time; Dr. Morris Ibeawuchia and Dr Ada Igonoh, two of the 11 survivors of the 20 Nigerians that contracted Ebola; Dr. Benjamin Ohiaeri, First Consultant’s CMD, who witnessed his staff members suffer with Ebola.

The film shows the staff members with their families and friends reminding viewers that Nurse Echelonu was more than just a statistic. Dr Ibeawuchi survived Ebola but had to navigate living with his brother, nephews, and nieces when he started showing symptoms. I was reminded that as we share the numbers of casualties caused by diseases, we must remember the numbers represent people with loved ones.

93 Days is currently available on Netflix.

TOPICS: Book clubCOVID-19

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