Accra, Ghana – The scare caused by the deadly Ebola Virus Disease that kills more than 50% of affected persons grows across West Africa. The virus has taken the lives of an estimated 1440 individuals from the 2639 patients in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo. A new case was confirmed in Senegal in the week of August 25, 2014.
This outbreak is described as the largest Ebola outbreak in history with cases expected to reach 20000 over six times more than the current figures registered so far.
On Friday August 29, 2014, the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI), organised an information session to raise public awareness on the Ebola Virus Disease. During this meeting, civil society in Ghana was urged to contribute towards Ghana’s preparedness to raise public awareness and prevent the disease from penetrating Ghana’s boarders and spreading in the country.
The session was dubbed “Preventing the contamination and transmission of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in West Africa”. The over 60 participants were provided with pertinent and accurate information about the deadly virus. Participants were from various civil society groups, health service providers, mining companies, diplomatic missions and government agencies in Ghana. They came from Accra, Tamale and Kumasi.
Participants commended the information session, attesting that it clarified doubts and misconceptions about the status of the outbreak and implications for Ghana.
Dr. Franklin Asiedu-Bekoe, Member of the National Technical Coordination Committee of the National Response to the Ebola Outbreak in Ghana said “no case of Ebola has been registered in Ghana”.
This cleared fears caused by rumours that cases of the disease had been registered in Ghana. “Over 60 samples of suspected victims have been tested at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research at the University of Ghana and all tested negative”, he added.
Dr.Asiedu-Bekoe mentioned that the government of Ghana is putting in place Ebola treatment centres in Accra, Kumasi and Tamale. He added that the government has allocated funds worth over 35 million Ghana Cedis to bolster the country’s preparedness to fight the disease should it eventually break out in Ghana.
He cautioned that despite government’s effort to fight any possible outbreak, Ghanaians have to play an active role in protecting themselves from any possible Ebola contamination. “Ghanaians must uphold hygienic behaviours and avoid misinformation which createsfear and panic in inhabitants”, he added.He encouraged Ghanaians to avoid pointing accusing fingers to specific stakeholders for being responsible for the inadequate measures in preparing to fight any outbreak in the country.
“Ebola is dangerous but it can be prevented”,Dr.Asiedu-Bekoe stated, adding that all individuals need to take precautionary measures to ensure healthy lifestyles like washing their hands regularly with running water and soap.
He further cautioned the media to engage in risk communication, educating Ghanaians on measures they must take to prevent any contamination by the virus.
Key Facts on the Ebola Virus Disease (Source: World Health Organization)
• Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans.
• EVD outbreaks have a case fatality rate of up to 90%.
• EVD outbreaks occur primarily in remote villages in Central and West Africa, near tropical rainforests.
• The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.
• Fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are considered to be the natural host of the Ebola virus.
• Severely ill patients require intensive supportive care. No licensed specific treatment or vaccine is available for use in people or animals.
For more information about the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI), please visit www.wacsi.org
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