Government Tackles Ebola
Dr Kwaku Agyemang-Mensah addressing the press
The government of Ghana in collaboration with other stakeholders within the health sector including the World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced key steps to be taken in tackling the potential outbreak of the killer Ebola virus disease (EVD) in the country.
At a meeting with the press on Thursday in Accra to outline the preventive measures, the new Minister of Health, Dr Kwaku Agyemang-Mensah, said government is implementing a preparedness and response plan which include epidemiological and laboratory surveillance, logistics, security and financial resources and risk communication and social mobilisation.
In implementing the plan, he said government has carried out a number of activities including an ongoing public education through the media, aimed at educating the general public on EVD.
According to him, all health facilities across the country have been directed to identify holding rooms or isolation facilities.
He disclosed that efforts are underway to establish Ebola treatment centres in Accra and Tamale to respond to the outbreak of the disease between the southern and northern zones.
Dr Agyemang-Mensah noted that ‘it is worth bearing in mind that preparedness is not an event but a process. Government will continue to work towards the best case scenario, which is prevention of the Ebola virus disease.’
He added, ‘In doing so, let us be mindful of the early symptoms of the disease-fever, headaches, and intense bodily weakness.’
He entreated all institutions to minimise mass gatherings that would necessitate the convergence of individuals from different places in the sub-region ‘as we remain in the high alert phase.’
He stated that ‘any mass gathering, particularly if it involves people from affected communities moving across borders to attend such conferences in the country poses a serious security threat.’
Meanwhile, Dr Kyei Faried, Head of Disease Control, Ghana Health Service (GHS) indicated that screening centres intended to check persons coming into the country from within West Africa on EVD have been established at all the major border points and airports across the country.
He also disclosed that ‘the GHS have sent key messages to all regional health directors which are to be delivered to people in churches and mosques on the spread and effect of the Ebola disease.’
He observed that ‘the fight against the virus is a collective responsibility which every individual and/or citizen must shoulder.’
A WHO report on the Ebola virus disease situation in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone indicates that as of July 23, 2014 there have been a total of over 1,200 cases of which more than 56 percent affected persons have died in the three West African states.
According to the BBC, ‘The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the world’s deadliest to date. More than 670 people have died as health officials in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone struggle to control the virus.’
Fifty new cases, according Dr Agyemang-Mensah, are being diagnosed on a daily basis within each of the three countries ‘which means the epidemic is far from slowing down.
According to Dr Badu Sarkodie, Acting Director of Public Health-Ghana, there have been 24 suspected cases of Ebola outbreak in Ghana ‘which have tested negative.’
History of Ebola
The EVD was first discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976 and has since then affected countries further east, including Uganda and Sudan and other Central African states.
Its outbreak in West Africa started from Nzerekore, a remote area of south-eastern Guinea and has gradually spread to the capital, Conakry and neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The disease infects humans through close contact with infected animals, including chimpanzees, fruit bats and forest antelope.
BY Melvin Tarlue & Cephas Larbi
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